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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sri Vaishnavam and Biblical Revelations

One may think - what is this bald head and below knee (Mottai Thalai and Muzham Kaal loosely translated) connection? Or better still what is this sudden, strange connection between GokulAshtami and GhulAm QAdir? All for a good reason, as we will discover with some patience.

Biblical Revelations, like Kalki Puranam and Kalki prophecy in Vishnu Puranam, paints a grim picture of our Earth's future harping on the irrevocable truth of God's wrath against errant humanity. As we can see with our own eyes today, many of these symptoms are already manifest in our present world. There seems to be less love and tolerance, and greater dissent. There is an abominable down-slide in what is considered as godly life, and a palpable disobedience to God and His Immutable Law, divined at the very outset of human history on Earth. When this behavior supposedly reaches an intolerable limit, judgment is prophesied to be visited upon our planet. In order to sequence these catastrophic events in a destiny time-line, biblical revelations presents through St. John's vision, a visual imagery of opening the Seven Seals, pouring out the Seven Bowls and sounding the Seven Trumpets. This not only serves to warn us of the grave consequences of irreparable actions, it also intends to instill the fear of God in place of antagonism and gross neglect.

On the other hand, Sri Vaishnavam relies solely on the Vishnu Puranam for its predictions of end of the Kali Yuga (roughly 427,000 years from now), disregarding any useful information revealed in the other puranams (Raajasa and Taamasa) as not suitable for the average Vaishnavaite. But as unbearably as it may fall upon orthodox ears, the divine is also in the details specially in Kalki and Bhavishya Puranams, about a time of intense Tribulation aptly termed the Day of our Lord. Despite few blinders like this, the Vaishnava tradition is yet able to offer its own insights into the concept of 7 bowls and 7 divine musical instruments. If anyone can point me to information sources on the 7 seals in Vedic tradition, I would be much obliged.

In the daily worship of Lord Vishnu as various saalagramam forms (called Thiru Aradhanam), a vaishnavaite uses vessels to hold sanctified water called Pancha Patrams. These are usually 5 in number, with a sixth reserved for Acharyan's (preceptor's) sake and the seventh being the Pratigraham to transfer sanctified water. No wonder there are 7 total bowls. Thirupalliyezhucchi, the early morning invocation to Lord Ranganathar, names 7 divine musical instruments sounded daily in Sri Vaikuntam for waking up our Lord and his divine consorts. They are called by ancient tamil names - YethamiL, Thannumai, Ekkam, MaddaLi, Yaazh, Kuzhal and Muzhavu. I have not been able to identify YethamiL and Ekkam (they are probably horn and cymbals), but have been successful in tracing the other 5 on the web. Remember, Muzhavu could have meant the keralite Mizhavu or our Ghatam or even Murasu (a later deprecation perhaps?). Similarly Yaazh may be Lyre/Harp, Tanpura, Veena or other String Instruments. Kuzhal may have meant pullanguzhal or flute, nayanam or pipe, israeli shofar, indian horn, or other reed instruments. MaddaLi would have been the Tavil, Chenda, or other indian drums played by wearing around the neck. Thannumai, per Silappadigaram and other ancient Tamil Literature, seems to be a Mridangam/Pakhavaj precursor. The 7 bowls as in Vaishnavism, Christianity and Tibetan Buddhism are:

Pancha Paathrams

7 Bowls of Wrath

7 Tibetan Singing Bowls

The 7 divine musical instruments of Vaishnavism are also shown below.
Maddali Drums
Yaazh Tanpura Veena Rudraveen
Kuzhal Flute
Mizhavu Ghatam Murasu
Cymbals Kartals
Shorke Shofar Horn
Indian Instruments Balinese Instruments

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