Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sage Ashtavakra

Sage Ashta  Vakra
(sage with eight bends)

Compiled  by

   There was saint called Udhalaka He was considered to have talked personally to the goddess Saraswathi.. He had a daughter called Sujatha   and a son called  Swetha Kethu. He also had a disciple called Kahodaka. (also known as  Khagodhara) . The disciple learned all that has to be learned from Uddalaka  and pleased him very much. Udhalaka then gave  his daughter Sujatha  in marriage to Kahodaka . Eventually Sujatha became in the family way. While Kahodaka  was  chanting Vedas  sitting beside her , the child in her womb shouted that Kahodaka  was  committing mistakes in his recitation. Kahodaka  became angry and cursed that the child would  be born with  eight bends, because the  mind of the child had bends. After the birth of the child Kahodaka decided to go to the court of king Janaka  to earn money by exhibiting his knowledge .At that time king Janaka was performing a Yaga  and so Kahodaka  was not allowed to meet him . Later he met the king and was asked by him to debate with a scholar in his court called Vandheena(also called Bandhi) . All those  who were defeated  by Vandheena (Bandhi) were supposed to jump in the sea( some versions say river) and die.  Kahodhaka was defeated   and  died.
   Ashtavakra  again learned all Vedas  in company of Swetha Kethu. Due to his fiery temper , the fact that  his father  died after being defeated  by Vandheena(Bandhi) was hidden by him. But one day Swetha Kethu happened to blurt out the truth. Immediately , with torrential anger Ashta Vakra started towards  the  court  of King Janka. On thei way , king Janaka  was  travelling in the same road opposite to them. The  security people of Janaka  asked Ashta Vakra to give  way to the king. Then Ashta vakra told them, “Does not your king know that  under  the laws  of dharma  , every human being  has to give way to the  handicapped people?” Janaka heard this and  agreed with him and gave way to Ashta Vakra  to proceed further. Ashta Vakra  reached  the court of Janaka   and was not allowed to enter inside,  saying that he was but a child. He told them that  his wisdom should not be decided  based on his age. Later when he went in front of Janaka, the courtiers of Janaka laughed at the misshapen boy . Then Ashta Vakra told Janaka that , he was not prepared to debate  with mere  cobblers. When the king wanted him to explain, Ashta Vakra told him that , he was being judged about his intelligence by his courtiers based  on his skin, similar to the cobblers judging an animal .  The king  was amazed  his intelligence  but felt great pity on that boy and wanted  to test his wisdom by  himself before allowing him to debate with  Vadheena (Bandhi) . The king and his courtiers were amazed at the knowledge of the boy  . The next day Ashta Vakra  defeated  Vadheena in scholastic argument and wanted Vadheena to jump in the sea and die. Then Vadheena told them that  he was the son of God Varuna and  was in the earth to recruit  sages to perform a Yagna to Varuna. All those defeated  by  him jumped in the sea  and  went to the  abode of Varuna to perform the Yagna. The Yagna was just over and all  of them would  return to   this world. As per his word Kahodha came back and was reunited with his son. Kahoda  felt bad that he has cursed his son. Sage Varuna then made him perfectly all right.
      Later Ashta Vakra wanted to marry  Suprabha , the daughter of  sage Vadanya. But the sage wanted to test him before giving his daughter  in marriage to him. He wanted him to go to Kailsa  meet Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi and further go north and see a very pretty damsel there  and come back. Ashta Vakra obeyed him and in  kailsa he was first received  by Lord Kubhera  and the sage stayed along with him for one year. He then went to Kailasa  and further proceeded  to  the north. There he met  seven very pretty maidens. Ashta Vakra wanted one of them to stay there  and asked the others to go. The lady who stayed there  tried to seduce Ashta vakra .He told that he was not interested in her but only interested in marrying Suprabha. The lady then told that  she was the goddess of the northern direction called Uthara  and blessed him and send him back.Ashta Vakra  returned back , married Suprabha.
Ashtavakra  and the deva maidens

   Once the deva maidens made fun of Ashta Vakra with a  body with bends. It seems Ashta Vakra cursed them to become human beings and they were the Gopis of the Brinda van.

Ashta Vakra  and Ravana

   It seems once  Ravana made fun of the form of Ashta Vakra and told him that he would remove all his bends by beating him. When he caught hold of the sage and threw him, the sage cursed Ravana that he would be crushed from head to feet  by monkeys.

Ashta Vakra  Gita
    One of the great philosophical  treatises  of Hinduism is the  instruction about  the nature  of self given by Ashta Vakra   to king Janaka.  It is referred as either Ashta Vakra  Samhitha or as Ashta Vakra  Gita.   It  is a dialogue between “Ashtavakra and king  Janaka on the nature of soul, reality and bondage.  It offers an extremely radical version of non-dualistic philosophy. The Gita insists on complete unreality of external world and absolute oneness of existence. It does not mention any morality or duties and therefore, is seen by commentators as 'godless'. It also dismisses names and forms as unreal and a sign of ignorance.
You are really unbound and action-less, self-illuminating and spotless already. The cause of your bondage is that you are still resorting to stilling the mind. (I.15)
You are unconditioned and changeless, formless and immovable, unfathomable awareness, imperturbable- such consciousness is un-clinging. (I.17)
You are not bound by anything. What does a pure person like you need to renounce? Putting the complex organism to rest, you can go to your rest. (V.1)”
   The  great  translation of entire book in to English is available  in
    There is another story  of the origin of  sage Ashta Vakra. It seems there was a sage called Asitha. He did thapas  to lord Shiva to get a son  and got a son  called  Devala. He was so pretty that Rambha  , one of dancers of the court of Indra  ,fell in love with him. When he refused her , it seems Rambha cursed him to become one with eight bends. Later he did thapas for six thousand years  and Lord Krishna with Radha came before him. Radha was horrified by the ugliness  of the sage but it seems Lord Krishna hugged him. This hug made  Devala get back his normal form. It seems this Devala married a lady called Yekaparna , who was the daughter  of Himavan.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A survey of Gothras among iyers (Tamil Speaking Brahmins)

A survey of Gothras   among iyers  (Tamil Speaking Brahmins)
Complied   by
 Gothras    among Brahmins is supposed   to be patrilineal groups among them.  They are believed to have  originated   from the Gothra rishi.  I wanted to know how the gothras are spread among  Tamil speaking iyers  and undertook this survey. As a part of arm chair research I went through several issues of  Sruthivani and Mukthipriya magazines which give matrimonial advertisements of Iyers. From them   using  the data of 3507  advertisements, I could find that  , they belong to  51 Gothras(  There may be many more Gothras, which has not come in my survey.
Gowri Veetham
Naidrupa Kahyapa
Rebha Kashyapa
Sri Vatsa
Uditya Goutama
Vishnu Vardhangeerasa

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Puducode Rama Pattar Rama iyer aka Chelakkara Thekke madam Kunju Rama Iyer aka Kingsway Madras Brahmin’s hotel Rama Iyer

     This great person was my father . Though I do not know his exact birth details , he was born in the early twentieth centaury as  the second son of Puducode Vadakke Gramam Rama Pattar  aka Saddil Raman and  Parvathy  the daughter of  the very rich Pulacode Rama Pattar . He had three younger sisters and a younger brother. His elder brother also was named as Raman and so he was called as Kunju Raman.  Though his father was from a rich background, due to fate he lost all his property.  He was  called to Chelakkara by his rich sister and a very rich father in law. His eldest son who was way word deserted the family  and ran away.  When Kunju Raman was  about 10 years old his father died of small pox . His  younger brother died before him.  His three sisters and mother were really starving. So the little boy of ten called Kunju Raman left his village to work in the Shanmuka Vilas hotel of his uncle at Kodaikanal . His uncle had several sons. The little Raman joined them as a worker. He has once told me that his dress was only a towel  and in winter he used to cover himself with an empty gunny bag. Because he was an extremely intelligent person , he learnt the art of serving in the hotel quickly. But he was not getting sufficient money to send to his mother and sisters. So after serving about an year he left Kodaikkanal  to work in another hotel in Combatore. He shifted later to Madras , Secunderabad and Bidar  .When he was 32 he owned the very famous hotel called Madras Brahmins hotel , which was 3397 in Kingsway secunderabad.

    We his children were educated by him and we became tolerably well off. At my very young age , when I was a scientist in Coimbatore, I had asked my father whether he wanted to visit  Shanmuka Vilas, Kodaikkanal. Some how he never wanted it. He said that it will take him  to the sorrow and misery that filled  a part of his life. He never wanted it. My father died at the age of 97 . I am now 72  and I had always had a longing to visit Shanmuka Vilas , Kodaikkanal.  It is still owned by the grand son of my father’s uncle .  This opportunity arose recently when my daughter and family went to Kodai  on April 25th of this year. I accompanied them . The name of Shanmuka Vilas has been changed to Padma Lodge . It was with flowing tears that I asked my daughter to take a photo of that more than one hundred years old building where my father worked when he  was ten.

The present owner also pointed out an almost one hundred year old Bougainville  tree at the entrance of the hotel. I am also giving a photo of that  tree.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Mama in Bahama

                                                    A nonsense rhyme On Bahama Mama

                                                           (Mama in Tamil means uncle)

                                                                  By    Raja Mama

                                                  To my little one who is not in India,

                                                 Osama  was definitely  not a mama,

                                                And  Obama was not  a mama to Osama,

                                                Nor was Obama a mama to Bahama,

                                               But in Bahama there was a hotel called  Mama,

                                                  Where the food was eaten by this mama.

Monday, March 26, 2012

This is a sketch by my seven year old grand daughter Yamini Venkatesan. She definitely appears to be a budding artist

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stotras for mothers and would be mothers.

Stotras for mothers and would be mothers.

I would like to point out several stotras which would be useful to girls who want to be mothers and also mothers. This definitely does not mean that there are no other stotras which would help them. These are some of those which I have come across:-
1.Stotras to marry according to ones wish
Swayamvara parvathi manthra mala stotram is the prayer which was used by Goddess Parvathi to marry Lord shiva and this same prayer was used by Gopis to marry lord Krishna. You can find along with translation in

2.Stotras for married women to get children

1.Vamsa Vrudhi Karam durga Kavacham This is an extremely effective prayer to get children. You can find it along with translation which also contains instructions on how to use it in

2.Puthra Prapthi Ashtakam This is a prayer addressed to Lord Narasimha of Mattapalli , which is in Andhra Pradesh. The God is requested to give a son in this prayer. The stotra with its translation is available in

3.Sashti devi storam. This prayer is extremely popular in the east of India. Sashti devi is Devayani , who was the wife of Lord Subrahmanya. She is believed to have six heads and rides on a cat. It is strongly believed that she answers our prayers and blesses barren women with sons. The stotra with a translation is available in

4. Slokas number 6 and 46 of Soundarya Lahari are supposed to help us in getting son. You can see my translation of Soundarya Lahari in Please note that there are yanthras attached to these slokas. They should be drawn , worshiped and later worn by the individual.

3.Stotras to protect mothers during pregnancy and ensure a safe delivery

1. There is a temple in Thikarukavur near Tanjavur of Tamil Nadu. The presiding Goddess is Garbha Rakshambikai. If you pray her it it is believed that she would ensure safe delivery. There are two stotras about her , one written by Sage Sounaka(
) and the other written by Brahmasri Sengalipuram Anantha Rama deekshithar ( ) . Both these great prayers can be used to ensure safe delivery.
2. Sloka number 29 of soundarya Lahari helps in avaiding abortion and ensuring safe delivery.

4. Prayer to ensure increase in intelligence of children
1. There is a prayer addressed to Lord subrahmanya to increase the intelligence of our children. This is called Pargana Vardhaka Karthikeyatotram . Devotees believe that it would improve even mentally retarded children. It can be found in

2. The first five stanzas of Sasakthi shiva navakam helps one to get expertaise in different fields of learning. Depending on his need please teach the concerned sloka to him .It can be found in

5.Prayer to ward of diseases of self as well as children

1. There are two great stotras called apamarjana Kavacham and Apamarjana stotram both addressed to Lord Vishnu which are supposed to clear of all diseases. They can be seen at

2. There is another prayer addressed to lord Shiva to get cured of all diseases called Srava roga hara Maheswara Kavacham

6. Prayer to help our children to live a healthy , joyous and wonderful life
There is a prayer in malalayalam addressed to the ten avatharas of lord Guruvayrappan to protect our children from all dangers and illnesses as well as to help them grow him in to a wonderful person. If you do not know Malyalam please read only the translation. It can be found in

Friday, January 13, 2012

Translation s of Sahasranamams , Suprabathams , Sthavarajas and also books

Here are the references to the translations of Sahasranamams, Suprabathams , Sthavarajas and books that were done by me.

1.Sahasra namam
Prayers which recite 1000 names of various Gods is a very popular form in stotra literature. There are Sahasra Namam( thousand names) for almost all important Gods. Most of the Sahasra Namams are from the different Puranas. But nowadays [eople do compose Sahasranama . I have translated four Sahasra Namams. They are:-
1.Vishnu Sahasranamam
2.Lalitha Saharanamam
2.a. Phala Sruthi of Lalitha Sahasranamam
3.Lakshmi Sahasranamam
4.Shiva Sahasranam


Though there is a sloka in Valmiki Ramayana requesting Rama to wake up from sleep and do his duties, there are no references to any Suprabatha Stotras in Puranas. The oldest such works are found in Tamil and are called Thirupalliyezhuchi. The first famous Suprabatham is that of Lord Venkateswara. I have translated 7 such Suprabathams including two Thirupalliyezhuchi s from Tamil. They are

1.Venkateswara Suprabatham
2.Ayyappa Suprabatham(Malayalam)
3.Sathya Sai Suprabatham
4.Ganesa Suprabatham
5.Kamakshi Suprabatham
6.Viswanadha Suprabatham
7.Guruvayupuresaya Suprabatham
8.Thiruppalliyezhchi of Manikkavasagar
9.Thirupalliyezhuchi of THondaradipodi Azhvar


These are the king of stotras and are very rarely available . I have translated sthavarajas of various Gods. They are :-

1.Vishnu Sthavaraja
2.Krishna Sthava raja
3. Rama Sthavaraja
4.Lalitha Sthavaraja
5.Shanaischara Sthavaraja

3. Books
I have translated several books of prayers in to English verse. They are :-

1.Bhagwad Gita in verse
2.Devi Mahatmyam
3. Soundarya Lahari
4.Shivananda Lahari
6.Jnana pana
7. Sri Ramo Dantham
8.Sri Narada Bhakthi Suthram
9. Sundara Kandam
10.Krishna Karnamritham
11.Abhirami Andathi(Tamil)
12. Sri Pada Sapthathi
13.Kandhar Anubhoothi
14.Kandhar Alankaram
15.Pasurappadi Ramayanam
18.Yaksha Prasnam
19.Gayathri Ramayanam

Translations of Panchakam, Sashtam, Sapthakam, Navakam, Dasakam and Bhujangam

Stotras also exist in some rare forms , the most popular form being ashtakam. Some Stotras , call themselves as stotras, others sthuthis and yet others sthavams. In these the number of stanza rules are not followed. Here are the particulars of stotras in these rare forms, which have been translated by me:-
Panchakams are prayers with five stanzas. These are rarely used in praising a deity but often used to tell us some important message. I have translated few Panchakams to English . They are:-
1.Guha Panchakam
2.Maya Panchakam
3.Janaki Panchakam
4.Athma panchakam
5.Guru Paduka Panchakam
6.Kasi Panchakam
7.Kaupeena Panchakam
8.Mathru Panchakam
9.Sadhana Panchakam
10.Vairagya Panchakam


Shatkams are prayers with six stanzas. This prayer form is also very unpopular with great writers for praying to God. I have translated three shatkams. They are:-

1.Nirvana Shatkam
2.Skanda Shatkam
3.Shriya Shatkam


SApthakams are prayers with seven stanzas. These are also stotra forms which are very rarely used. I have translated two sapthakams . They are

1.Hari sarana Sapthakam
2.Subrahmanya Sapthakam (Tamil)


Navakams are prayers with nine stanzas . These are also rarely used. I have translated two navakams. They are:-

1.Sashakthi Shiva Navakam
2.Aarya Navakam


Daskams are prayers with ten stanzas . This form of stotra also is rare. I have translated six such stotras written in the dasaka form. They are :-

1.Nyasa Dasakam
2,Gauri Dasakam
3.Sastha Dasakam
4. Dharma Sathru asraya Dasakam
5.Bhoothanatha Dasakam


Though there are several stotras where 12 nmes are mentioned , there are very few with twelve stanzas. The most famous (I have yet to translate it) is the Dwadasa stotram written by sage Madhwachaya. I have translated only stotra with this speciality. They are:-

1.Dharma Sasthru Asraya Dwadasam

7.Bhujanga stotras /Bhujanga Prayata stotras and Dandakams
Bhujanga means snake . The Bhujanga and Bhujanga prayata stotras are written in a meter resembling the movement of a snake . Adhi Sankara Bhagawat pada has written many stotras praising various deities using this style, the most famous of these being Subramanya Bhujanam.Dandakams are Poems which have more than 26 letters per line .. Since it is extremely difficult to write , very few poets have attempted it. The most famous prayer written using this meter is Shyamala Dandakam. Here are a list of these type of prayers that I have translated:-
1.Vishnu BHujanga Prayata Stotram
2.Dasa avathara Bhujanga stotram
3.Sri Rama Bhujangam
4.Shiva Bhujanga prayatha stotram
5.Bhavani Bhujangam
6.Devi Bhujanga stotram
7.Saraswathi Bhujanga Prayatha Stotram
8.Saraswathi Bhujanga prayata ashtakam
9.Subramanya Bhujanagam
10.Sri Sastha Bhujangam
11.Hanumath BHujanga prayatha Stotram
12.Shyamala Dandakam
13.Garuda Dandakam

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kavachams (armours ) addressed to various Gods

Kavachams (armours ) addressed to various Gods.

I think that it is the proper time and place to look backward and see the translation work done by me in categories. Kavachams are prayers that ask God to protect us and various parts of us. I have translated Kavacham as Armour . But many of my learned friends, prefer to translate it as shield. I some how feel that armour would be a better translation. There are two types of armours prevalent in stotra literature –one used a prayer and another used by thanthrics to protect themselves from evil spirits. I have translated more than 50 Kavachams in to English. Some of them like that addressed to Lakshmana, Bharatha , SAthrugna and Balarama are very rare. Apamarjana stotram addressed to Vishnu and Maheswara Kavacham addressed to Lord Shiva are believed to cure all diseases. The Vamsa Vrudhi karam Durga Kavacham and Varaha Kavacham are supposed to help in getting children. The Mrita SAnjeevini Kavacham is supposed to help us win over fatal diseases . The Trilokya Mohana Kavacham is believed to help us attract people. The Rudra Kavacham, Maha Vidhya Kavacham, Bhuvaneswari Kavacham and Kalika Kavacham are believed to help us win over our enemies, who have tried to destroy us by black magic. Here is the list of Kavachams that I have translated:-
1.Narayana Kavacham
2.Apamarjana Kavacham
3.Nrusimha Kavacham
4.Trilokya Mohana Nrusimha Kavacham
5.Narasimha Kavacham
6.Venkatesa Vajra Kavacha stotram
7.Sri Rama Kavacham
8.Lakshmana Kavacham
9.Bharatha Kavacham
10.Shatrugna Kavacham
11.Balarama Kavacham
12.Gopala Kavacham
13.Gopala Akshaya Kavacham
14.Shiva Kavacham
15.Rudra Kavacham
16.Maha Mruthyunjaya Kavacham
17.Mrita SAnjeevana Kavacham
18.Radha Kavacham
19.Bhavani Kavacham
20.Devi Kavacham
21.Maha Vidhya Kavacham
22.Bhuvaneswari Kavacham
23.Durga Kavacham
24.Vamsa Vrudhikaram Durga Kavacham
25.Kalika Kavacham
26.Saraswathi Kavacham
27.Maha Lakshmi Kavacham
28.Ganesa Kavacham
29.Vinayaka Kavacham (Tamil)
30.Skanda Sashti Kavacham(Tamil)
31.Shanmuga Kavacham(Tamil)
32.Subramanya Kavacham
33.Kanda Guru Kavacham(Tamil)
34.Maha Sastru Anugraha Kavacham
35. Adhithya Kavacham
36.Chandra Kavacham
37.Mangala Kavacham
38. Budha Kavacham
39.Brahaspathi Kavacham
40.Shukra Kavacham
41.Sani Vajra Panjarika Kavacham
42.Rahu Kavacham
43. Kethu Kavacham
44.Tri lokya Mangala Surya Kavacham
45.Eka Mukha Hanumath Kavacham
46.Pancha MUkha Hanumath Kavacham
47. SAptha Mukha Hanumath Kavacham
48.Ekadasa Mukha Hanumath Kavacham
49.Veera Hanuman Kavacham (Tamil)
50.Thulasi Kavacham
51.Dathathreya Kavacham
52.SArva Roga Haram Maheswara Kavacham
53.Varaha Kavacham for getting children
54.Maha Lakshmi Kavacham II