11.24.2005

The calling - Darasuram Shiva temple

Its a bright sunny morning,the smoke rises out of the kitchen as she gets the aroma of a delicious brahmin meal in the making. Her father heads to the temple next door, to do the routine abhishekam for the day, while her mother gets ready to weave the next silk saree.

She hums a little tune to herself as she freshens up and looks out at the trees dreamily as the shimering leaves sway in the gentle breeze. She watches the birds with colorful feathers sing to each other as they make home. Dressed and ready for the day, she pins up the jasmine flowers onto her head and tucks the davani onto her waist and walks out of the house to head to the temple next door.

Its an old temple, not too big, not small either but simply beautiful. She rings the big brass bell hanging down at the hall, its ring reverberating through the walls. Its a calling, to the Lord that she has arrived to serve him again. She sings a melodious tune to herself as she sweeps through the hall while her father offers abhishekam to the deity within. She advances near the main shrine, the most beautiful shrine she has seen and been close to all her life.



She walks through the silence as the cool breeze shuffles her hair. She watches the fire dancing gentle as it clings to the wicks of the oil lamps. She observes the dancers all along the walls as they perform for the Lord, movement that she had wished she could grasp, movement that she saw even through stone. They danced and played the drum, they went in rhythmic motion, she could swing with them and bring it all back alive, she could hear the music in her ears as she swayed with the wind following the poses on the wall.



True beauty, pure love, that no one could touch, pure music in her heart as she danced her way through the pillars, pure rhythm in the feet as she felt each sculptural pose in her fingers as she bent backwards feeling them on the wall. The wind rang the bells in gentle motion, the fires seems to join the dance flow, as the idols in the niches watched on to see her, the performer on the floor.

She walked into the darkness, closer to the lord, through the dark passage occasionally lit by patterns of sunlight. Her anklets made the only sound she could hear as she stepped closer to the Lord's chamber. She was now as close as she could get, in front of the dark room, where he stood. She looked at his stony self, a silent Linga, draped beatifully in the lamp light. The intoxication rising as she felt it right through her skin, rhythm still in her mind, she swayed with the beat as the Lord danced in her mind. The madness ever rising, the darkness giving way to the eternal light, she watched the the fire flicker into haze as she swooned to the floor.

She had looked out of the grilled windows all these days, longing for her prince, wanting to know which land he would come from. He had been here, right by her side, always there, watching her every step in pure bliss as He took her in His arms, every day as she swooned listening to the rhythmic beat in his feet.

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P.S. Darasuram hosts a shiva temple surrounding which live a lot of weavers who make our most famous silk sarees. This just brings alive the feelings of one such innocent life.

14 comments:

JC Joshi said...

‘Silk sarees’ could bring to mind the ‘Great China silk route’ for global trade between different countries in the past, and the country China where sericulture, reportedly, was for the first time introduced by a queen. It remained Chinese governemnt’s national secret and was not known as an industry in other countries for long… Later it was introduced in Europe and Japan... As an industry, it appears to have been introduced in India (in the present era) only about 400 years ago, after which it flourished and at a certain stage saw some ups and downs due to disease, and competition from other silk producing countries. It has flourished as an agro-industry after independence, and provides employment to over 3.5 million people in the country…

With the above as background and also, as is well known, the geographical and cultural meeting point of the North and South India, i.e., the state of Karnataka, besides gold mine, sandalwood, and so on, naturally provides ideal climate for 5 to 6 crops of Mulberry silk throught the year, and accounts for around 85% of its production in the country, with West Bengal, J & K, Tamil Nadu, besides some other states also following it… Besides Mulberry silk, Tasar, Eri and Muga silks are also produced in India in some states…

An interesting aspect of systematic silk production is that the raw material, cocoon - virtually a reel of silk thread, as silkworm’s protective skin that passes through 3 to 4 moultings - is made by a cultured worm that feeds on cultivated plant, a bush or tree, over a span of about 50 days of its growth from its initial egg stage, to longer larval stage and then to the pupa stage from silk emitted from its mouth. The worm is then allowed to come out of the cocoon in the grainage, which is boiled in water to soften it and thereafter to reel out the silk thread...

For good quality silk, the male worm is thereafter allowed selective breeding through a healthy female that is crushed and tested after it has laid eggs while the male worm is rejected or maybe allowed to mate with other female worms!

The cocoon thus seems to have inspired ancient ‘Hindus’ to similarly maintain ‘brahmacharya’ or celebacy and lead a discipline life till one is mature enough to enter ‘grihasthashram’ or marry, only in the interest of a healthy progeny. Worship of Shivalingam in His consort Parvati’s yoni-pitha, like our earth having moon as its only satellite, also thus communicates symbolically the continuity of healthy and disciplined human race eternally, yuga after yuga, Adi Shiva believably having originally started from Kashi…

JC Joshi said...

Hi Kavitha,

With reference to your write up about your above posting, received separately by email, I would like to add that as per legend Shiva is also called Airavateshvar or the Lord of Airavat, the white elephant of the God of the Heavens, Indra. When it regained its lost colour, Indra is believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva at the spot where Airavateshvar Temple stands at Darasuram...

Also, an extract on Daivanayaki Amman Temple at Darasuram from ‘Architecture of the Indian Subcontinent’ by Takeo Kamia, a Japanese architect reads, “Usually Amman Temples are shrines dedicated to the goddess in the main temple where they stand by the side of another shrine. Here it stands alone with its own fence and is a miniature of the Airavateshwar Temple. Since the base of an unfinished gopura is right in front of the shrine, they may have planned a full-fledged temple here.”

And also, I had heard the name of Kanjivaram (Kanchipuram) in association with silk sarees earlier.

abhilash warrier said...

Kavi,

This reminds me a lot about Urvashi... Now, that is a character I love...

And, the last paragraph, is that you merging the woman's prince charming and the Lord to be one and the same?

Well, I guess that is so. Please correct me if I am wrong. Prince charming may have some failures that the Lord may not have... or prince charming may have been blessed by the Lord so that he does all that the Lord could do in human form...

it ends rather abruptly. the post, i mean. i was waiting for an entire day's account... but it just ended...

well written though, i think you could have written more...

the post really sums up to some extent what you feel whenever you put your feet on any of the Lord's ancient temples...

good to know...

Revathi said...

I have also been extremely fascinated by this renovated Shiva temple. I considerit to be the most beautiful temple in Tamilnadu....even in its state of anarchy. But unfortunately, if I wrote a story, it would read the exact opposite of yours. I met a local family that did not think much of the temple, or its architecture at all.Another similar davani-clad, very religious young girl just simply refused to even acknowledge that Linga as Shiva and said it was like any other stone in teh vicinity. I thought then that proximity to such abundant beauty had blinded many people like her!

kavitha said...

Hi Revati,

I know proximity makes people take things for granted, and they do not see the beauty until it is not there anymore.

Those families will not understand the importance of the temple until the temple is gone.

Given we do not live close to it, and our lives are not attached to it the value of the temple increases. I am sure if i were to go and live there now, i would feel the value, because i have learnt to appreciate it.

this is pure fantasy... because i think sometimes reality sucks.

JC Joshi said...

Even ‘modern’ art can be appreciated only by one who can visualize what the ‘creator’ wants to communicate through the creation. For the uninitiated, for example, a painting by Picasso might not even be worth the cost of the canvas on which it is painted…

A Forest Officer in Bhutan, on deputation from India, told me how due to lack of knowledge some Bhutanese earlier used to burn, for heating, wood from Walnut trees as fire-wood!!!
Of course, the interesting feature of life is that one can justify any action. For example, for a Yogi living in a cave, besides air and water, all trees/ animals are equally valuable in so far they are useful to him for sustenance of his physical body only – his soul purpose being to realize the self…

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