When does it change?

Suddenly, one fine evening, I realised how far I had drifted apart from my family. I had missed a couple of festivals the previous year and had instructed my office folks to not bother me with calls from my parents. And then, it hit me. Like a meteor strike. My world, crashing down, leaving me with an unexplainable urge to burst out crying. I was an independent woman and was not supposed to cry. I left everything as such and went to my parents’ place. The moment I saw mom, I hugged her with all I had. The ache was subsiding slowly. So were the wounds healing. 

This is not a slice of my life. Not yet, at least.

Watching one of my favourite romcoms made me ponder over the idea of healing. We go through different stages in life, where people come and go. It is as if our life is an open university and people can barge in and out anytime they want to. But there remains only one constant in that entire equation- family.

Thanks to Oedipus, girls are always daddy’s lil princesses. Since when does the bond between a mother and a daughter come to the forefront? Is it when the daughter hits puberty? Or is it when she starts working that the mother sees a younger version of herself in her offspring? Does marriage bring the two closer? Or is it just the physical absence that makes hearts grow fonder?

I remember trusting both my parents to the T growing up. So much that I never knew when I was full. I said I was full when my mother told me I was full and can’t stuff my face with any more food. I am told that I trusted appa so much that I went with him to Hosur without amma when I was around a year and half old.

But the earliest memories of amma and I chatting up would be from nine years back. I think the saga began then and has not shortened. Our conversations have only gotten longer and weirder. Would this change once I get married and go off somewhere to make my own family? Only time will tell. The freedom to visit home whenever I want to or to stay for months there would be curtailed then. But would the substance of our conversations change? I wonder.

Would I feel stifled when I am deprived of my own mom-time? I think so. How does one cope up with such drastic changes? I guess that is a part of the whole ‘being ready’ thing. You grow up, see how things are with mom and dad and wistfully wish the same for yourself.

The news of Sridevi’s death came as a rude shocker to me. Honestly, I haven’t grown up watching her movies since I rarely watched movies growing up. But, whatever I had watched recently and struck a chord with me, she reminded me of my own mother (English Vinglish, for further references). Heck, in that movie, even her name was that of my mother 😀

What ached me was the thoughts about Khushi and Jhanvi, Sridevi’s daughters. I am sure some part of those two girls died on February 24, 2018.

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Best Reads of 2017 – Chennai SRRs speak

So, I am a part of a readers group on Facebook. We exchanged our lists of favorite five books that we had read in 2017. Do take a look at this amazing list, and add them to your TBR. Wish you all have an amazing 2018, with more books and more time.

Thanks to Seemita Pooja Das, for compiling this list. She blogs about books here and has some great book recommendations.

Ciao!

Fleeting Brook

Untitled Design

So, I found a splendid group of bibliophiles during 2017 which brought a hemisphere of positive energy into my life. I wrote about them at length yesterday. And because we are readers, books always wafted over our discussions like saffron in the kahwa chai.

Now that a new year has walked in and we are looking at the various books we might read or gift or add to our collection, here is a compilation – the  top 5 reads of (some) SRRs in Chennai.

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Serious Men – Manu Joseph

Title: Serious Men

Author: Manu Joseph

Published: 2011

Pages: 326   

Genre: Fiction- Humour

The book gives, in a nutshell, what the two extremes of the Indian social sector think of each other, of the world around it and the media. Caste has always been a touchy topic in India. Votes are fought on the basis of caste and hence nobody really bothers to address the underlying issues. For centuries there have been the oppressed and the oppressors. Though the identities behind the titles might have undergone a slight change, the larger picture remains the same.

I had heard a lot about Manu Joseph, the author, and hence was curious when I saw his name on the library bookshelf. Equipped with patience and time, this one was a good book.

Ayyan Mani is the sole breadwinner of a family of three, living in a chawl in Mumbai. The initial pages of the book give a good description of Ayyan and the way his mind works. He works in a premier research institute in the country and his boss is Arvind Acharya, a brahmin, who is also the head of the institute.

Ayyan’s eleven-year-old son has hearing difficulty in one ear and asks weird questions to his teachers in his class. Ayyan stimulates his son’s thinking by encouraging this behaviour and buying him books.

A newcomer to the institute, Oparna, becomes the centre of Arvind’s attraction. This is followed by power struggles between different sections of brahmins within the institute, which tests Ayyan’s loyalties. The story revolves around the lives of Ayyan’s family, Arvind’s family, the institute and the politics within and the role of the media in this entire maze.

I loved the descriptions in the book. They are vivid and detailed, making me picturise as the story flows. The tale gets a push in its rear only after page 285 though. Till then one gotta be patient. It felt like I was peeling a coconut off its rough exterior to find the sweet water inside. Patience is the key here. After page 285, the story becomes fast and sees to it that all the loose ends are firmly tied.

One thing that I liked was that the author hasn’t minced words when it came to the prejudices that come with the character. He also has incorporated some of the laughable notions that resonate more with us now, given the present political climate in the country. Snapshots of some of my favorite lines are given below.

I would give portions of this book numerous re-reads since I loved the mind-voices of the characters in it. I would also seek Manu Joseph’s other titles for his witty jibes and sarcasm.

Pro tip- Don’t miss those “Thought for the day” jibes from Ayyan.

Waterboarding- Bragadeesh Prasanna

Title: Waterboarding

Author: Bragadeesh Prasanna

Published: 2017

Pages: 201

Genre: Fiction

What’s in words?

Forgetfulness is one thing. Forgetting a phase of one’s life is another. How would it feel, if there existed a love story in those erased pages? Tricky and scary, right? That is what the book is about.

The story revolves around Ved, Sara and Maya. It swings between the past and the present and ends in the threshold of the future.

“A little pain is always nice. It helps us appreciate the normalcy when it returns”- Ved

Ved meets with a gory accident, which leaves him plastered. He is immobile and as a result frustrated. Worse, he seems to have forgotten his pre-accident life due to trauma. He takes the help of two of his trusted friends- Ramesh and Sara to figure out the missing details and to get back to normalcy. Ramesh, Robin, Sai and Neena are the other named characters in this story, who play their own significant part.

Who is Maya? What is her role? Where is she now? What about Menaka? Guru?

“Darkness has that capacity to coerce the truth”- Guru

Answers to these questions form the remaining part of the story.

Woven along an intricate maze, the author keeps the story moving. There is no dull moment anywhere in the 201 pages.

“One can only drink so much from a mirage” –Sara

The story has been written in a ‘Peter Swanson’ style. Three people narrate the story to the reader, giving three unique perspectives. While Ved and Maya say the story themselves, Sara records it in her diary. It is nice to have a change of narrative once in a while.

One thing that I liked the most about this book is the selection of verbs. I have been learning this for a short while- A strong verb gives the sentence its punch and helps improve any description. It is true. The change in the quality of description is extreme, when compared to the author’s previous book, 300 days.

Apart from the gripping story, the book has some nice lines to mark and cherish.

“When someone says something bad about us, we are ready with piles of justifications and incidental sequences to defend ourselves. But compliments always work the other way round” – Ved

There are few editing issues with the book which could confuse the reader. But ignore that and proceed with the core idea, one can still relish the book. I am sure all of us will relate to at least a couple of parts in this book. Waterboarding is NOT torture. Not here at least.

Lakshmi- Feminism? or not?

I believe that movies are a great medium to talk to the masses. Of course, it is a one-way communication mode, but it makes us think. Powerful stories with the apt background score and cinematography can create magic on screen. Short films are no less effective than feature films.

My post is about the short film, Lakshmi, and its widespread discussion in the social media.

The movie is about a woman in a sad marriage and her thoughts. It doesn’t stop with her thoughts, it manifests in her actions too. At least for a short while. I am not spoiling the movie further, please do watch it here. (It has subtitles too!)

So a few of my friends tagged me in one of the discussion pages where the movie was being dissected beyond the normal level of human comprehension. I mean, it is a movie. It could represent the societal realities as much as it represents the overhyped and unrealistic aspects. But a few comments alarmed me. When did this become anything related to feminism?

Nobody questions when a man cheats on his wife, but why is the hell breaking loose when a woman does the same? asked one of the ‘feminist pages’.

From what I saw, this had zilch to do with feminism or the absence of it. The movie was about abusive marriage and infidelity as a tool to set off such abuse in the marriage. How is it even justified? The last I checked, two wrongs do not make one right. Just because one person in the marriage is abusive, it is not a license to indulge in an extra-marital affair. It does not address the problem. It creates a new problem for the couple.

Individual freedom is a different concept from relationship rules. Any relationship revolves around an unsaid charter, I feel. There are points classified as Green, Yellow and Red light ones, signifying the acceptability of each of them. The red ones are the deal breakers. What I don’t understand is that why is everything linked to feminism these days? So much that the mere term scares even the well-meaning people off.

I personally felt that if one is in an abusive marriage, one must either talk and sort it out or walk out of the marriage. The individual frustration is not a good reason to cheat on the significant other.

In fact, the movie left the crucial bits to the audience to conclude. So the views might change according to the way each of us perceived those crucial junctures. I liked the movie for what it is though. It made me reflect on the ideals of a relationship.

Mindless thoughts after a movie

Three love stories. Two had a ‘happily ever after’ ending.

A fiery-filmy one, a slow and uncertain one and a mature one. It is confusing, isn’t it? I was just speed-watching the movie Kandukondein Kandukondein and couldn’t help but notice the contrasts in the storylines.

I am not sure if the director meant the audience to notice this. Did he imply that the fiery, too-good-to-be-true affair to fizzle out eventually and the ones that withstand the odds to survive at the end? I really don’t know.

A tiny note about this movie- Amazing songs, beautiful cinematography (worth remembering for a long time) and star cast. 

I am not qualified to talk about love or relationships. Heck, my reputation till recently was of ‘breaking up relationships’. No, before you conclude, let me explain why.

If someone asks me for a ‘relationship advice’ (dressed up term for ranting about the significant other), I listen. I listen with all the patience I can possibly muster. I realise at the 23rd minute of the rant that this person is just a party to an abusive relationship and is being taken for a ride by that other person. So, as a good Samaritan, what do I do? I express my expert opinion on that subject.

It is not as if one aims to split people up. Often I find people getting swept away by the glitz and glamour of a relationship. The honeymoon phase, you know. It is after it wears off that one gets to the evaluation mode. So yes. I advise. Free of cost and only when solicited.

So post that phone call, these people wake up from their self-imposed slumber and see what I said. They understand the nitty-gritty of my opinion and the rest is history.

So back to this movie, I was wondering what would I have done, if it was my friend, who fell for Bharathiyar poems? ( I would totally fall for the poems, for the record, and not the guy who recites it. Okay, maybe for the guy who sings it just like Hariharan did in Suttum Vizhi Sudar thaan) Would I have stepped in, suo motu and given her/him a piece of my mind? Probably no.

Over the years, the one thing that I learnt the hard way was to not give my opinion on something unless asked for it. Expert opinion is not meant to be given free of cost, right? I just smile and move on. Whatever has to happen, will happen.

I also was surprised that the director chose to make the underrated love stories in that movie, a success. I was talking about this to my mom. We often discuss these issues. She says that a relationship must be tested as much as possible before it becomes anything significant, culturally ( you know the socio-cultural ceremonies and recognition). She says that it must witness quarrels, distance, possessiveness, helplessness and a whole range of concepts before one can safely trust it.

I am not sure I agree with this fully. To an extent, yes. It makes sense. I would go for the practical aspects of any relationship to its theoretical version. To carry my SO in my pocket and roam around is just impossible. Even if we decide to take the plunge, it is not as if we are gonna sync our office timings to the T and spend amaaaazing weekends together. C’mon! I have seen my parents, and hell no! They don’t do that. And theirs is the perfect marriage I have ever known.

So is love a compromise? A decision? or an impulsive feeling? Did Meenakshi settle to marry Bala because he was the most accessible and available person then? Did Mano come back to marry his love because he knew she would remain unmarried for the rest of her life, given her so-called bad luck?

I must not be allowed to watch movies. Hence proved.

A Glimpse of the Past- Dakshinachitra

Faint notes of ‘Saamajavaragamana’ struck me, when I stood at the reception of Dakshinachitra to buy an entry pass. This krithi in Hindolam is by Saint Sri Thyagaraja, who lived in the 18th century A.D. The fragrance of agarbaththis wafted through the air, bringing with it the scent of Arali (Nerium) flowers. All these eased me up for a laid-back walk inside Dakshinachitra.

Dakshinachitra is nothing like a conventional museum. The absence of glass-covered artefacts and long corridors can confuse anybody. Reconstructed traditional houses from the four south Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh find their places here. Dakshinachitra is a walk through the memory lanes of our ancestors and the lives they lived.

Checking my pass in, I crossed over a small archway, to see the vast expanse of land. Huge canopies lined up along stony pathways. A tiny market made its presence felt, thanks to the bling that were up for sale.

All the old houses that are replicated in Dakshinachitra are bought from the contractors who are assigned to demolish them by their owners.  More often than not, the owners want a modern house in the places of these old houses and hence sell them off.

We do extensive research on the background of the house and its people and try our best to recreate it here,” says Sharath Nambiar, Deputy Director of Dakshinachitra.

My favourite was the Chuttillu House, which sadly is placed at the fag end of the trail. Found in the coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh, the structure in Dakshinachitra was specifically from Yelamanchilli, Vishakapatnam district. These houses are made of mud and circular. They have thatched roof that extends until the ground, in order to drain off the water, from the incessant rains that the storms bring. These roofs are built at an angle of at least 45 degrees to drain the rainwater away. The round shape of the building is to combat the raging winds, which are usual in the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh.

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The Chettiar house from Tamil Nadu was another memorable piece.

The term ‘Chettinad’ denotes the region Pudukottai, Sivagangai and Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu. Trade was their main occupation and it reflected in their lavish lifestyle. Polished wooden interiors, which kept the temperature inside the house in check and a collection of expensive articles that were given as gifts during their weddings vouched for the prosperity of the Chettiars.

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A typical Chettiar house has a long thinnai , which is the porch at the entrance of the house and an inner open-roof courtyard in the middle of the house. The thinnai is for the men and outsiders to meet and talk while the courtyard is for events that are more intimate. It is the sacred space and is designated only for family members.

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The Syrian Christian house is characterised by the woodwork, mostly with timber and jackfruit wood, the well in the kitchen and long verandahs. The polished, dark brown wooden walls were attractive and gave a rich texture.

IMG_20171026_114309These houses had huge granaries too, which were built immediately at the entrance. The Syrian Christians used to pray in front of their granaries and hence their houses were built to store huge quantities of food grains. Their settlements were concentrated in the districts of Kottayam, Kollam and Aluva, mainly in the valley of the river Pamba.

Karnataka is a state, whose history is rich. From the mountainous regions of Coorg and Talacauveri to the heritage of Hampi, it has it all. The exhibit of the Chikmagalur house told the story of its original inhabitant, a Muslim trader named M.A.Ismail. The house’s special feature was the patterns in the doorways and windows made of fine limestone. Houses in Chikmagalur are built with varying grades of limestone, found in abundance in Karnataka. The most coarse grade would go to building the base of the building while the finest will be made as floral patterns over doorways.

Chikmagalur was populated by Muslim traders, credited for bringing the art of perfume oil extraction from Arabia.

On my way out, I stop by Nambiar’s office to ask about the loud voices that sang the basic notes of Carnatic music all along.

“We work with a lot of folk performers and expose them to various other styles of dance and theatre,” he says.

Dakshinachitra is also planning to hold thematic exhibitions and environment awareness programs to school students who visit the place. I take a quick walk inside the craft shop and being broke, started on my way back home, with loads of memories and pages of heavy notes.

*Dakshinachitra is located on the East Coast Road (ECR), very close to MGM and is well connected by bus.

Ghachar Ghochar- Vivek Shanbhag

Title- Ghachar Ghochar

Author- Vivek Shanbhag

Published- 2017

Pages- 128

Genre- Fiction

A simple tale of a Kannada household narrated in style. The tale is about a man and his family, their lives and habits.

We have fond memories of spending our vacations with a large number of family members. Big houses, shared responsibilities and rights to admonish the pesky kids, eternal supply of snacks and beverages, timely food and never-ending playtime. That’s how I spent my vacations when I was a child. Ghachar Ghochar is extremely relatable in that sense. It tells the story of us. It could be yours and mine.

It starts with the scene of a coffee house which is a local favorite. An adda for people living in the vicinity, it hosts a wide variety of people. Coffee house is the Indian version of clubs and bars in the western world, with brisk barmen listening to the qualms of the tired visitor, while wiping the counter with a cloth. In the place of the barmen, we have Vincent.

The way the author writes about Vincent makes him come alive. The uniform, the physique etc. It took me to the phase when premium hotels of the olden times, like Palmgrove in Nungambakkam, had crisply dressed waiters, who could pass off as a band-member from the R-day parade.

Slowly as I progress through the pages, I saw myself in those houses that resembled a set of train compartments. The lives of the family revolving around stringent budget, with a father who goes paranoid when his accounts doesn’t get tallied is just a slice of my own life.

The story says a lot about the behaviour in most Indian families. The maximum respect in the house is reserved to the member who earns the most. The entire family strives to make that member comfortable, ignoring the teeny-tiny discomfort they have to go through in that pursuit. The silence of that member is always greeted with fear or anxiety, unquestioned. Let me give another such instance through a sentence in the book-

A man in our society is supposed to fulfil his wife’s financial needs, true, but who knew he was expected to earn the money through his own toil?

There were other profound lines in the story too. They seemed to convey more than their literal meanings, at times with humour, like this one-

Had Vincent taken on a grand name and grown a long shimmering beard, he’d have had lakhs of people falling at his feet

or this-

Sir- one story, many sides

or this-

The last strands of a relationship can snap from a single glance or a moment of silence

Towards the end, the story has a subtle twist, giving it a psychological shade. I was expecting some sort of closure, to be honest. But, this was a great idea. It leaves the rest to my imagination. May be, I could write an epilogue to this or a spin-off.

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it for anyone who needs a light read.

Picture Prompt- Week#1- The Wait

Patience is power.
Patience is not an absence of action;
rather it is “timing”
it waits on the right time to act,
for the right principles
and in the right way.

-Fulton J. Sheen

Waiting with patience is underestimated.

Every phase of our life invariably involves the waiting game. It is probably the most excruciating feeling. I don’t know what will happen or when, but all I can do is to wait and sit back. Sit back and watch for the time and the opportunity to knock my door, to light my life up.

It happens even to the best of people. We give our best. Yet, results are tales that only time would tell. I run in the park everyday. That is how I channelise my thoughts to make my day lovely. They say a positive mind is a key to a positive life. I don’t believe in it. yet I do have some beliefs myself.

So as I run in the park, there comes a moment when I just want to give up. I stop short of breath and gather myself up and look for the nearest empty bench and drop myself on it, with exhaustion. I see a couple of others walking and running past me. They all look focused and hopeful. It is as if they are raring to go, to grab the chances that crowd their doors and windows. I look at them, trying to give each of them a background. A story of their lives. May be they are in a worse state of mind than I am. Or may be they are blissful about their lives. Each of them seem to have a story.

I watch in silence as they move past me. I realise I am waiting for my time to come. I am waiting for that one opportunity to walk past me, just like these people. A future waits for me, just like the rising Sun in the horizon. The day looks promising, and so is my spirit. It gradually lifts up as the distant sky is colored with hues of rich orange and golden streaks. I feel the warmth of a new day. It feels good. Waiting feels good. It is my time to sit back and observe, may be. It feels good.

 

When Statues tell Stories

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a walk along the statues in the Marina, as a part of an event. It was conducted by the Storytelling Institute on account of Madras Day. This is the advantage if you are a media student. You get to know a lot of events and somehow gather the energy to be present and see what happens there.

So the walk was planned along six statues, starting with the Kannagi statue and going up to the Avvaiyar statue. Here I shall try to document the background of each statue, with a mix of narrative from the walk and also a little from me.

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Kannagi Statue

Kannagi’s is a fascinating story. In those days, Tamil Nadu was ruled by different kingdoms and each kingdom had its own symbols of identification.

This piece of trivia was told to me by one of the Tamil teachers who taught me- Chola kingdom had anklets that had Rubies in them, while the Pandiyas down South had anklets with pearls in them. This was also an aspect of identity for the people back then it seems.

It was the time when Kovalan, Kannagi’s husband had come back to her. He was in an illicit affair with Madhavi earlier and he had realised his mistake. Once back with Kannagi, they sought to begin a new life and devoid of money, Kannagi gave him one of her anklets and told him to sell it. Kovalan set out with the jewel and was arrested by the soldiers of the Pandiya king, in Madurai. Their Queen’s anklet was missing and since Kannagi’s anklet looked very similar to the missing anklet, they arrested him and brought him to the king. The king, after taking a look at the anklet, confiscated it and ordered Kovalan to be killed as a punishment for theft. Thus Kovalan was killed. This news reached Kannagi and she was angry. She was sure that her husband was no thief and she set out to seek justice from the Pandiya king himself. She goes to his court and argued that the king had made a mistake in killing Kovalan. She said that her anklet had rubies in them, while the Queen’s anklets had pearls. She threw the anklet she had onto the floor and rubies scattered from it. She asked for her other anklet from the king and threw that open too, in front of the entire courtroom. It broke and rubies came out of them too, thus proving that the king had erred in executing Kovalan.

Distraught at the injustice meted out to her, with untied hair and eyes burning with fury, she cursed the then prosperous city of Madurai and reduced it to ashes. Worshipped as a deity in some parts of Tamil Nadu, she is the heroine of the Tamil epic- Silappathikaram, which means the tale of the anklet.

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Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Born in 1897 and raised in Calcutta,  his father was a famous lawyer.  He was sent to England to study.  In England, he passed the Indian Civil Services Exam. The Jallianwalabagh massacre made him quit Civil Services training in England and in 1921 he came back to India.

It was then that he met Mahatma Gandhi, and joined the Indian National Congress.  He was arrested and jailed by the British so many times.  And for what?  Only for saying that his people should be free.  Eventually, he fell apart from Gandhi altogether.  He could not accept Gandhi’s insistence on nonviolence.

Gandhi wanted to change human beings. Bose just wanted to free India.

In 1941, when Germany went to war with England, he went to Germany (by way of Afghanistan). He broadcasted anti-British radio programs from Berlin. He accepted support from both Germany and Japan for he believed that an ‘enemy of my enemy, can be his friend’.

In July 1943, he went to Singapore.  There he organised the Indian National Army.  In March 1944, they crossed the Burma border and stood on Indian soil.  However, when Japan and Germany eventually lost World War II, the Indian National Army had to retreat too.  Then, in 1945, it was reported that he was killed in an air crash over Taiwan.

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Tiruvalluvar

One of the most important literary figures of the world, his work, Tirukkural encompasses everything that is required for a balanced and good life on earth. The book, also known as the Ulaga Podhumarai, has 1330 couplets, with chapters on justice, relationships, conduct, and governance.

வள்ளுவன் தன்னை உலகினுக்கே – தந்து
வான்புகழ் கொண்ட தமிழ்நாடு

sang the legendary poet, Bharathiyar. (By giving the world, Valluvar, Tamilnadu attained eternal glory).

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G.U.Pope

He was born in 1820, on an island off the East coast of Canada. His family migrated to England when he was small. He traveled to South India in 1839, to spread the word of Jesus Christ.

G.U.Pope was a good student of languages, and in time became a scholar of Tamil, Sanskrit, and Telugu. He started a number of schools, and in these schools, he taught Latin, English, Hebrew, Mathematics, and Philosophy.

He decided to translate the Tirukkural, and completed the project in 1886.  Then, in 1900, he completed the translation of the Tiruvaasagam (“Sacred Utterance”).  This is a volume of hymns composed by the ninth century Shaivite Bhakti poet, Manikkavaasagar.  Tiruvaasagam is the eighth volume of the Tirumurai, the sacred anthology of Tamil Shaivite Siddhanta.

The main message of the Tiruvaasagam is that the body is temporary and we should not spend a lot of time and energy pursuing worldly comforts. Those are among the root causes of pain and sorrow.  Rather, one should pray to leave the body and attain liberation (moksha). The soul should have control over the body and not the other way round. It also said that the ultimate aim in one’s life is to reach Lord Shiva’s feet or, in Christian terms, to be in the presence of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ.

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Bharathidaasan

A rationalist poet, he adopted his name owing to his admiration of Bharathiyar. His poems are based on social issues and in a way contributed to the Dravidian Movement in Tamil Nadu. His missions in life were to promote his mother-tongue, Thamizh, to change the idiosyncrasies arising from old traditions, and to use new formats to convey revolutionary ideas.

His poems reflect the society of his days and also echo a tune of morality and upright behaviour. He stressed the importance of being honest and also socially responsible. One of his poems that I still remember learning in my high school is this one:

“தன்பெண்டு தன்பிள்ளை சோறு வீடு 
சம்பாத்தியம் இவையுண்டு தானுண் டென்போன் 
சின்னதொரு கடுகுபோல் உள்ளம் கொண்டோன் 
தெருவார்க்கும் பயனற்ற சிறிய வீணன்“

The one who stays content with the welfare of his wife,

kids, food and wealth,

is the one who is of a heart that is as big as a mustard seed,

useless to anybody else.

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Avvaiyar

Avvaiyar lived in the ancient Sangam Age, over two thousand years ago.  She loved to write poetry. She wrote poems about nature, people, the universe etc. In those days, a woman writing poems was not encouraged. But she knew what she wanted and what she didn’t. She did not want to spend all her time taking care of children and a husband.  So she prayed,

“Please let me be bent, please let me be broken, please let me look in such a way so that no man would want to marry me.” 

The most important women poet of Tamil Nadu, she gave the world, Aathichoodi, which teaches moral lessons to children in a sentence. Each sentence is a story. Her friendship with Adhiyaman and her story about a Jamun tree are well known. Popular culture shows her as the one who sings songs in praise of Lord Muruga and Lord Ganesha.

*Some of the above content is hereby credited to Story Telling Institute and is used with their permission *