Sunday, June 7, 2009


(Four word : Very high PJ levels.)

Gotcha, if you thought this was about the secret liaisons of a famed commentator made much more famous here. Gotcha again, if you thought this was about the escapades of a not so famous and not made famous anywhere yet, gentleman whose web avatar exists here. Besides, he is the Shastry with the y. (Shastry, hoping a return favor for this plug).

This in fact is on a very sensitive topic which might start of a centuries long debate. This hopes to identify the reasons for a peculiarity prevalent amongst the followers or rather the priests of the two sects of Hinduism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism. Whilst there beliefs and practices are largely similar there is the small matter of appearance which has bothered me over the past few months. Why is it that the Iyengar(Vaishnavite) priests are so much more hefty and fatter than their Iyer(Shaivite) peers?

This , ladies and gentlemen , is a question which has resulted in much existential angst for me. Even Dasavatharam the movie presents a similar picture. Rangaraja Nambi is shown to be a strong priest who thrashes the meek Shaivites. Now, we all know how well researched Kamal's movies are and therefore I will take it that even at that age and time, the Iyengars were better built than Iyers, at least in the matter of priests.

I thought about it for a long time and then it struck me.

Reason number one (Raison d'etre) :

The butter. Poor Betty who bought bitter butter and then had to go in search of better butter. Had she been aware of Iyengar temples, her search would have ended right at one of those. With the ownership rights of Krishna and Hanuman, the two apparently greatest butter specialists in mythology, there is no shortage of butter at there temples. And to top it off, since Hanuman is supposed to be really huge and it is a custom to apply the butter on the whole idol, one can imagine the quantity of butter that goes into this process. And quite obviously, as every good human being knows, one should not waste any consumable item. Thus forced to act as good samaritans, my assumption is that the priests rather unwillingly partake the butter later, much to the chagrin of the many thousand devotees who possibly believe that it is the Lord himself who uses the butter up for his early morning toast.

Reason number two :

Money. Look at the Shaivite conundrum. They have to worship the God of Death and Destruction, while the Vaishnavites are to worship the God who is responsible for happy existence on earth. Now it is only natural that all Shaivites therefore are slightly apprehensive about praying excessively and appealing more than necessary through generous grants to the temples of the sect. The last thing they'd want is for Shiva to discover a major affinity for them and send his brother in arm , Yama riding on his buffalo , to their house. (As a slight distraction, one wonders if its time to change the buffalo to a bullet. Imagine Yama riding this bullet to force them to bite this bullet).

Reason number three : (Raison d'ethree)

Money. This one is because of an amazing myth which some mega-intelligent Vaishnavite had the brains to create. Lord Venkatesha who resides peacefully in his abode at Tirupathi, owes a hell a lot of cash to the money man of Indian mythology, Kuberan. Now as dutiful devotees, it is only too obvious that the best way to please the lord would be to help him repay the loan. Now, this is where the mega-intelligence grows to giga-intelligence. The man who started the story did not tell the world what the exact loan amount was. This meant that till the time Lord Venkatesha appears to the world and delivers a thank you speech for saving him from bankruptcy a la the US government and Goldman Sachs, the (poor) people will have to keep filling up his coffers.

Now with so much money, the most obvious thing to do would be to ensure that all the hungry devotees are well fed. In the honorable intention that no devotee's hunger should be left unsatiated, the amount of food cooked will far exceed the amount of food consumed by them. And again as good samaritans, the priests ... ( you know the story).

These people are my initial findings. I shall over the course of time try and dig deeper into this great mystery. Any additions from your side are welcome.

P.S In the extreme event that any individual reading this feels offended by my comments, I would like to state that the post was intended to be humorous and not offensive. For the rest of you who are offended by the lack of humor, I deeply and sincerely apologize. Ya right!