Moon, Mountain and Mysticism - 2
by B R Haran on 22 May 2010 5 Comments

Dana – The Prime Dharma

Dana & Dharma [2] go together and we normally say “Dana Dharma” whenever we talk about seva. Dana refers only “Annadana” as denoted by the term Dharmashala. Hindu Dharma says one should even sacrifice one’s life to save another life. While helping a person, we should not look into his/her caste or religion and we should not bother whether he/she is good or bad. Talking about Annadana, Thirumoolar’s Thirumanthiram says, “Yaarkum idumin; avar ivar ennanmin”, or, “Give to anyone; don’t look into antecedents”. The most significant aspect of Annadana is that it is the only service in which the acceptor will say “enough” and “I don’t want anymore”. Such words would not come from the acceptor if any other thing is given.


“Poortha Dharma” – Community Service


In our Vedic civilisation, the essence of Dharma lies in the concept Pancha Maha Yagna comprising, “Brahma Yagna” (reciting & teaching Vedas), “Pitru Yagna” (sradda and tarpana, etc.), “Deva Yagna” (puja & arati for Eswara), “Bhuta Yagna” (feeding animals and birds) and “Nru Yagna” (serving atithis, guests). This concept of Pancha Maha Yagna caring and protecting all of creation is postulated only in the Vedic Religion.


Apart from this, social services have also been defined under Poortha Dharma in the Dharma Sastras. Various social services undertaken by a community as a whole belong to this category of Dharma - temple cleaning, temple renovation, road laying, constructing wells and tanks, Annadana for locals and outsiders during temple festivals.


Pradhakshana Namaskaram


The uniting of Maheswara Seva and Mahajana Seva is Dharma. The most important aspect of Maheswara Seva is “Pradhakshana Namaskaram”, doing Namaskaram after performing circumambulation. Circumambulation can be performed for a particular Sannithi, or, for the whole temple, or, for the whole hillock or mountain if the temple is located on top. Circumambulation of a mountain is called “Giri Valam” or “Giri Pradhakshanam”.


Our whole body is engaged in the ritual of Pradhakshana Namaskaram. The mouth recites slokas, namavalis or sings bhajans. Hands play musical instruments; do archanas, ring bells or merely claps to the tune of bhajans. Legs perform the main task of circumambulation; head bows down in reverence and bhakti. When we do Namaskaram, the entire body from head to toe worships Bhagwan. Anga Pradhakshanam is unique in the sense that it is a combination of both Pradhakshanam and Namaskaram


Thiruvannamalai is a place where Bhagwan Shiva himself stands as Annamalai (mountain). That is why it attracts millions of devotees from world over for every Paurnami Day!


Mahajana Seva and Maheswara Seva


In village Koduvilarpatti in Theni district (Tamil Nadu), the Sri Sachithananda Ashram was established by Sri Paranjothi Swamigal, who had mastered Ashta Maha Siddhis. He attained Siddhi four years ago and as long as he was alive, he attached a lot of importance to annadana and did it in an exemplary manner wherever he went. Even today, hundreds of poor and downtrodden are being fed in his Ashram.


To cite an exemplar for his great service of annadana, this writer wants to share a personal experience. Swamiji organized for round the clock Annadana during the last Maha Magam (Mahakumbh of south) at Kumbhakonam. The kitchen stoves burnt non-stop all ten days of the festival and the ashramites fed not only the people who visited the makeshift Ashram, but also took food and water to various temples and fed millions of devotees who thronged the temple town. This writer personally participated in the great service for two whole days, catering to thousands of police personnel who were on duty in the town, providing security to the pilgrims. The annadana service of Sachithananda Ashram was adjudged the best during the Maha Magam and the ashramites were blessed with the appreciation of His Holiness Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi.


Sri Paranjothi Swamigal gave equal importance to Maheswara Seva and was very particular about performing yagnas as prescribed in the Vedas. He always had a team of efficient and scholarly Vedic pandits who used to perform the yagnas, homams and other Vedic rituals. During his last days, he used to talk about having a permanent Ashram in Thiruvannamalai for daily annadana. As a first step, he wanted to do annadana during Chitra Paurnami festival.


Hence a group of disciples (including this writer’s friends) have been doing both Maheswara Seva and Mahajana Seva for the last four years in Thiruvannamalai on Chitra Paurnami. On one side yagnas go on and on the other side cooking of various prashads, and annadanam  is round the clock. Once the annam is cooked, it is served after naivedya; this goes on throughout the Paurnami period non-stop. This writer had the opportunity of participating this year and what an experience it was!


Yagna, Dana, Pradhakshana, Bhagwat Seva – Divine Experience


A marriage hall situated along the Girivalam path was the venue. The hall was used only for the stay of volunteers. Outside the hall a huge shamiana was erected dividing the area into two parts, one for performing yagnas and homams and the other for preparation of food. Close to the Girivalam path and in front of the shamiana, wooden barricades were laid to streamline the crowd and serve them properly. 


Maheswara Seva started with Ganapati Homam in the morning and went on with Navaratna Homam, Mahalakshmi Homam, Mahas Rudra Yaagam, Chandi Homam and Swarna Akarshana Bhairava Homam, etc. supported by thavil and nadhaswaram troupe. The prashad included a sweet, four varieties of rice, a side-dish, pickle and water packets. As and when the prashad was ready, the naivedya was performed and the food was sent to the service section. At any given time, two varieties of rice were served with other dishes and water.


The seva, which started on April 27 morning at 9 am, ended only at 6 am on 28th. As Paurnami started at 7.30 pm on 27th, millions thronged the Girivalam path and throughout the night we were serving non-stop annadanam. Watching the movement of the ‘human sea’ around the blackish-blue mountain in the yellowish moonlight, reverberating with the chants of “Om Nama Sivaya!” and “Arunachala! Haroharaa!”, was a divine experience! This writer disappeared into the crowd and covered the 16 km circumambulation chanting Om Nama Sivaya! It was exciting and rejuvenating! Sitting through the yagnas, completing the Giri-pradhakshanam and then participating in the annadanam was a truly divine experience.


Though without sleep, we never felt tired for the entire nearly 36 hours, from the time we left Chennai and returned, thanks to the blessings of Annamalai. The divine spell, which engulfed the body and mind can only be experienced, not described. Those who have experienced it would not be surprised at lakhs of people invading Thiruvannamalai every Paurnami day.          




Hindu Renaissance will happen where Maheswara Seva and Mahajana Seva take place simultaneously. We at Hindu Dharma Protection Movement experienced this personally during our Dindukkal Meet on 18 April 2010. In fact, Thiruvannamalai was a great motivating factor for us to organize the event in Dindukkal. What we heard about Thiruvannamalai, this writer experienced personally on 27-28 April during Chitra Paurnami. If we perform such seva throughout the country, Dharma will prevail and the nation will be safe and secure.


Where there is no seva, need will increase; when need increases, vision will change; when vision changes, approach will vary; when approach varies, aliens will get into the mind; when aliens get into mind, the mind will get confused and that Confusion will lead to Change (Conversion).


Thus, to fulfill real necessities and avoid artificial needs, seva must increase. When seva increases, Dharma will be established. The established Dharma will save the nation, its people, its religion and civilization.   


[2] Deivathin Kural (Voice of God), Vol. III and VII, compilation by R. Ganapthi, Vanathi Pathippakam, Chennai. 



The author is a senior journalist; he lives in Chennai

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