Shyam Sundar’s Navaratri and The Miracles in his life

Shyam Sundar was born to Dandayutham and Vasantha. He did his schooling from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and further pursued Bachelor’s degree in Computer Applications and Master’s in Multimedia through correspondence. Shyam Sundar had unfortunately lost his father at the age of 15. He is a jeweler by profession and runs Tejaswini Diamonds and Jewels in Coimbatore. Even as early, during his first grade, he became a devotee of Shakthi Devi. He pointed comfortably, “I was greatly inspired by the movie, ‘Aathi Parashakthi’ and the song, ‘Solladi Abirami.’ The manner in which S. V. Subbaiah plays the role of Abirami Pattar accompanied by T. M. Sowndararajan’s voice awe-struck me.”

Young Shyam had seen movies like ‘Kanchi Kamakshi,’ ‘Mupperum Deviyar,’ and ‘Raja Rajeshwari’ and had been fascinated by their glories. This ardent Devi bhakta, now, makes beautiful turmeric faces of Ambal. He had learnt this craft and began making these Mukham (Face) from the age of eight. It is noteworthy that Shyam Sundar’s family is also highly devotional, and this definitely is a reason for his spiritual inclination.

The jeweler said the phrase, “Shakthi Illamal Shivan Illai,” had gone dike into his head and that had also made him a true Devi bhakta. He believes that Amba is the supreme creatrix of the entire universe and is the most powerful among all gods. From then on, he started to collect stories of Ambal found in comics, and movies, and that became his pastime.

Shyam Sundar is not only a brilliant jeweler but also an excellent artist. He exclaims that he mostly sketches the portraits of Ambal. A beautiful portrait of Devi, well-framed, was found at the entrance of his cabin. He added that he used to make Trishul-s (Trident) and play with them during his childhood days. The gentleman-Devi-bhakta is not too old, but forty-one.

Shyam Sundar expressed his thoughts with absolute conviction, “I affirm that Devi is the cause for my creativity. She is considered as the Saguna Parabrahmam (The Supreme God with form). I soon started to explore Her various Rupams & Kolams (Forms) which includes Sri Chakra Devata Rupam, Lalitha Tripura Sundari Rupam, Raja Rajeshwari Rupam, etc. I also began to study, ‘Lalitha Upakhyana,’ when I was 18.”

His further explorations led him to know about the dashamahavidya and the 51 akshara shakthi rupam-s. One could clearly witness the glow in Shyam Sundar’s face because of his fervent devotion to Devi. Shyam Sundar recites ‘Lalitha Pancha Ratnam,’ ‘Amba Pancha Ratnam,’ ‘Raja Rajeshwari Ashtakam,’ and ‘Devi Bhaagavatam,’. It is appealing to note that he sees Ambal in everything. The young among the old by age seems to be far more matured than the latter.

The Navaratri festival is celebrated in an august manner at his residence. Shyam Sundar stated, “In the course of time, my bhakti became deep-rooted and pooja vidhi-s became profound. When I visited Kanchi Kamakshi Amman Temple, I bought a small vigraha of Devi which I use during the Navaratri time to perform rituals. I do extensive pooja for Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati during this time. I started Upavaasa (Fasting) with one time during the early days but now I stay through all nine days with only the prasad that is offered to Amba.”

The Dharmi (One who follows dharma) continued, “A Manjal Ambal (Ambal made from turmeric) is made every year. The same idol is used for three different occasions during the year. During the first three days of the Navaratri, Goddess Durga is invoked as, Chamundi on the first day, Kaumari on the second, and Parvati on the third. Then, Goddess Lakshmi is invoked for the next three days as, Varahi on the fourth, Narasimhi on the fifth, and Vaishnavi on the sixth. Followed by the aavahana of Maa Saraswati as, Brahmani on the seventh, Rudrani on the eighth, and Indrani on the ninth.”

Alankaaram, Pooja, Devi Bhaagavata Parayanam, and recitation of various other mantra-s and sloka-s takes place in an elaborate way at my residence. The Abhishekam-s (Offerings cascaded on the deity) are performed to the Goddess in grandiose way on the day of Vijayadashami. Manjal, sandalwood paste, swarna, kunkuma, bananas, dry fruits, sugarcane juice, etc., are used to perform abhishekam-s. It takes 2 hours for all the abhishekam-s to get over. 'Mangalakaramaana Manideepam' is read on the tenth day. Rituals are also performed for the Navagraha-s (Nine planets are considered as deities in Sanatana Dharma) who form the nine body parts of the Devi.”

“After the final poojas, 18 Taamboolam-s (A set of auspicious things) are given to 18 Sumangali-s (Married women). The shastra-s prescribe elaborate Pooja vidhi (Rules for conducting a ritual) for all Devi poojas. The good thing about Ambal is that despite all the rules she accepts whatever is done with bhakti. I participate in Navachandi homam (Rituals done with sacrificial fire to 9 forms of Devi) which takes place at Kamakshi Amman Temple in Coimbatore on one of the days of Navaratri festival.”

Shyam Sundar narrated few of his experiences where Devi had helped him to overcome the problems. “Once I was traveling to a place by car on a highway. As it was a highway, I sped at 140 kms/hr. Suddenly, on the way, a man happened to cross the road with few cattle. When I realized that I could not stop my car, I made a sharp turn. But the car lost its control and skid its way towards the opposite lane. I somehow managed to apply breaks, again the car slid through and made horrible drifts and moved towards a deep pit where there was a tree. My car crashed against the tree, and I lost my consciousness. The local people in the nearby area came to my rescue. On regaining my consciousness, I discovered that not even a wee-bit scratch happened to me, and this also surprised the rescuers. I, now, say it is purely because of Her kripa. She stood there as a tree, otherwise I would have fallen into that pit and lost my life.”

Shyam keeps himself well-built and fit. He also happens to be an enthusiastic trekker. Here’s what happened to him at Kailash-Manasarovar. “I had been to Manasarovar one year before my marriage. I undertook the yatra along with others, mostly Sivan adiyar-s (Saints whose primordial deity is Shiva) and few Uzhavara thondar-s (Volunteers who maintain the temple premises clean). We traveled in 4 or 5 land cruizers to Manasarovar. During the way on towards the lake, I had picked up an argument with few of the sivan adiyar-s that Shakthi was more powerful than Shiva and Shiva himself was indebted to Shakthi.”

“All of a sudden one of the wheels of the car in which we were traveling broke apart and it crashed down. The sivan adiyar-s started blaming me for arguing with them. Probably, their heads got enveloped with superstition at that moment. No sooner, the driver came back running happily with the wheel. I then pointed the sivan adiyar-s that look at the power of Maa Shakthi, we haven’t yet started to pray but we have got our solution. Frankly speaking, the place where our car wheel broke apart looked almost like a desert. If someone misses a thing at that place, it couldn’t be easily found out. Only then the sivan adiyar-s started to hear my words. I only expressed She’s everything and She’s beyond time.”

“We reached Manasarovar around 5 pm and I wanted to take a dip in the lake immediately, as Manasarovar is the personification of Devi herself. But we were instructed only to take bath in the morning with a bucket of water from the lake. I did not heed to the instruction but went towards the lake to take a dip. I just saw Devi in the lake. Many roared not to go, all their words went in air. At the place where I entered the lake, water was shallow, but I kept walking into the lake. Seeing me walk, few others also crossed the instructions and joined me. I would say water was at the right temperature at that time to take a bath. I made 7 wishes, each followed by a Sashastanga namaskaram (Bow down completely with the body touching the ground) as the water level was only knee deep. I felt the holy dips were like praying to Devi by entering her sanctum sanctorum. The next morning, when others tried to bath, the water was freezing.”

“I carried Devi in my heart all the way I walked. Though others hired horses to do the parikrama of Mount Kailash, I did it completely by foot. After the darshan when we were about to return, the sivan adiyar-s came rushing towards me and did sashastanga namaskaram. I told them not to do so, but as they kept doing that, I ran towards my vehicle and shut the door. After few months of my return, my mother underwent 2 major surgeries and she is perfectly fine now. She is running 75.”

These are few of his experiences where Devi bhakti and the results of his ardent devotion can be observed. In fact, Shyam Sundar expressed more. These occurrences had molded Shyam Sundar to become a Athitha Devi bhakta (Fervent devotee of Devi) and this can be observed from the way he celebrates Navaratri. He says wisely that vidya upaasana is matter of wisdom and that he prays for the well-being of the entire world. It is with Devi kripa (Grace of Devi) that he has got an extremely supportive family.

Shyam Sundar concluded by saying, “Ambal reveals everything to me. I have completely surrendered to her. She tells me to use my Viveka (Discrimination) to see through things. Amudha Jayabalan, my wife is also extremely devoted, and I see her as a gift from Ambal. With Her kripa, I have also been blessed with another gift, my son, Mrunal Vaibhav.”

Bhakti is not something which has to be cultivated over time, it is a matured form of emotion towards the supreme. This helps in what we imagine to be empowerment and upliftment. True bhaktas are found through the entire history of the world at various eras and here stands Shyam Sundar as an embodiment of Devi bhakti.

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