To be honest,I had never been actually exposed to guardian deity worship since young.Even today,I am ignorant to the rituals and protocols in ayya worship.Nevertheless I got in touch with this entity intimately quite recent.
* Ayya translates to 'father' in tamil.Ayya is a loving term used for guardian deities*
The only significant memory of my childhood regarding Ayya that is still deeply enrooted in my consiousness is the sweet incident that used to occur when I stayed in my grandmother's place.I was barely around the age of 4 or 5 during that time.Every night,prior to night slumber,I would hear the sound of anklets ( salangai ) in tandem to someone making rounds around the area on a horse.This rhythmic tune of salangai was an indescribable lullaby I would yearn for even today.
This is an Ayya shrine in a Perumal Temple in my hometown ( Sri Varatharajan Perumal Temple,Subang Jaya).I used to fear Him,even chickening out from footing into His shrine.
In case monologues like
'' these are common traits of ayya'' or
''this is not something special,it is a common occurence''.
start bombading your intellect... a clarification on my sharing :
Yes,absolutely.I have heard many miracles and astounding stories regarding ayya and how his presence takes various forms( such as the fragrance of cigar ( suruttu ) ).The point that I would like to emphasise here is that other than the childhood memory I illustrated here,there was barely any other relation or connection between me and ayya ( of course until lately ).
WHEN AYYA MANIFESTED IN MY LIFE ...
I had to move to somewhere afar from hometown for some reasons.Coincidentally,there is an Ayya temple in this area I had just moved to.This temple area was nature-rich- which really attracted me.Hence,in my initial period, I occasionally spent time there meditating,doing yogic practices,kriyas, or simply to sit with mother nature.Coincidentally,it was also the time when I was learning the Sri Rudram.
Video above : chanting of Sri Rudram
As time passed,the time came when the temple commitee decided to conduct a kumbaabhisheka in the temple.They even renovated the temple.By then,I had already learnt the Sri Rudram completely.
Since the temple was now all fresh and dazzling post kumbaabhisheka,I eagerly sat there one night and chanted the Sri Rudram with a friend.My intellect suggested that it was perfectly apt to chant the Sri Rudram to ayya ( Muneeswaran and Madurai Veeran are installed in this temple ) as the Sri Rudram adores the Lord in the form of Rudra and praises the cosmos in the form of Rudra. Who else could represent Rudra better than Bhairava in the form of our Guardian Deities ?
The astounding view from the temple...
Upon completion,a bystander approached me personally and requested that I should do the veda parayanam of shri rudram consecutively for the next 12 days.
I took this pretty serious and was really committed in performing this task.I had no reason why.
And I did manage to accomplish it.I made sure that I chanted the complete Shri Rudram in the temple for the next 12 days.And I did face much trouble and obstacles.At times I could not enter the temple as it was locked and I had to stand outside the premise throughout the rendition.While at other times,due to hectic days,I had to go to the temple at night ( it is situated in a real deep forest.There is an informal rule that prohibits anyone from going to the temple after sunset.I left the rule to cowards and discarded it ) to complete the task.Of course,there were many who were not happy with me doing this as well ( those who had tried rendering a service to the society would understand what I mean....)
Of course,what I did was seen as a little 'extreme' by a few observers and Malaysian Indians being as what they are,spread the news vastly ( yes ,stereotype stressed ! ).
After 12 days,I assumed that I was done with the 'task' or 'commitment' and planned to go to the temple on special occasions only,and not on a daily basis anymore.The temple is situated quite far from the residence ( walkable distance though) and well, if I ever wanted to chant,I could do it from home.My bond with Ayya was still not established during this time.
However, I somehow had the pull towards the temple and I couldn't help myself from going there often.Soon it turned into a frequent routine of me going there and chanting the Shri Rudram. At that time I was still not familiar with other veda mantra and was still on the process of learning them.So I kept it simple with just Shri Rudram.
As time passed,my bond with ayya strenghtened.He started manifesting in multi-dimensional ways to me.The beauty was that I truly never expected these things.My idea of ayya being a fierce,scary and strict deity withered.I started relating to Him as an extremely close friend ( may be odd but I relate to Him more as a friend than a father ), a cool warrior and a symbol of dharma and justice, and perhaps a buddy I could sit with and chill.
The experience and connection that upsurges within me while chanting the Shri Rudram in His presence is simply unexplainable.I would prefer not to elaborate on them so as not to make this article too mystical - but rather simple.You may contact me personally for a detailed discussion on this...
When I say experience,I am NOT talking about things like getting into trance,arul vakku ( oracling) ,surutthu ( cigar ) smell or even feeling His presence and other common things we hear in relation to Ayya worship.In fact I am not interested in these things.My concern is about getting immersed in the unimaginable divine grace and energy which transforms us from within and having divine love poured.The self and divine is to be experienced as one - like eyes and sight.
Video above : Sri Rudram tutorial video for learning.
Throughout my activity in this temple,much drama occurred.For reasons I am oblivion to,my activities were opposed by some.
I was accussed for robbery in the temple,many rumours were dramatized as well - I was apparently bringing girls to the temple after midnight and got them into hysteria,I apparently talked to trees in the temple,told people that a ghost resides in the temple etc...
They even locked the temple for a period of time so as to bar me from entering.As if that was not enough,they even built a fence around the deities...
I wouldn't lie,the pressure i faced was crude.I still recall the days when I saw myself standing outside the locked temple premise,yearning to get myself close to ayya's vigraha ( energised idol).
Despite that,the deities always stood by me.All those who created trouble were rendered powerless.In short,nothing prevented me from connecting with Ayya there through the Shri Rudram.They may lock,build fences,but ultimately these clownish stuffs were temporary.
A big lesson that I learnt that,make friends with the divine- and you can win the world.100s or even 1000s will be rendered powerless if you are righteous and stay connected to the divine grace.
A LITTLE CONCERN FROM ME
As we are aware there are many false practices and myths on the contemporary that are infiltrating into our religious rituals.We should correct the wrongs and lead a clean ,dharmic path in the spiritual line.
It is indeed shameful to admit that there are myriad of 'devotees' who go to ayya temples just to taste the meat of slaughtered animals or to give sacrifice to ayya so that a wish may be fulfilled.
The deities are not bloodthirsty wanting blood splash.Some may argue that slaughters are done to provide life energy to the deity.Life energy can be provided by even breaking coconuts or cutting limes etc.Don't go to temples to please the tongue.And no apparent starving man comes to temple these days.it is all well nourished people..So my point is that Ayya is not a restaurant tycoon to please your tastebud.Don't humilate the science and purpose of temples this way.
Our Indian culture emphasised non-violence and vegetarianism.Adopt a vegetarian lifestyle into your life. What is the point if we stop slaughters in temple but continue eating meat at home ? The torture and pain for the animals is still the same.Our body is said to be a temple by our elders.
Thiruvalluvar says - meat-eating and compassion or tenderness towards all life are incompatible. That is why he asks in anguish, "How can a meat-eater have compassion.
Thannoon perukkarkuth thaanpiridhu uoonunbaan Enganam aalum arul? – Kural 251
You may have your wish fulfilled by gambling with divine,but in my opinion it is futile unless you experience divine love.Devotion will ensure divinity to be on your side at all times.Making deals with God ... just doesn't make sense in my head.