Giving generosity its place

Chennai: The asura King Mahabali agrees to give Vamana the equivalent of three steps of land measured with His feet. To complete the act of giving, one has to wash one’s hands and say, ‘Na mama’- ‘not mine’. This indicates complete possession by the receiver, of that which is given, and can no longer be claimed by the giver, said Adur Asuri Madhavachari, in a discourse. Mahabali, therefore, asks his wife Vidyavati to bring water to complete his gift of land to Vamana.

It is often the grievance of those who sport the ‘urdhva pundaram,’ called ‘namam’ in Tamil, that the word namam has acquired a negative connotation in common parlance. Whenever someone is cheated by a con man, he says, “A namam has resulted,” to indicate that something belonging to him has been taken away. This wrong usage might, in fact, have stemmed from the words ‘Na mama,’ and has nothing to do with the ‘urdhva pundaram,’ was the surmise of Srimad Thirukkudandai Andavan.

The words ‘na mama’ being required to complete the dana, with the ritual washing of hands, Vidyavati brings the water in a kamandala. Sukracharya, the guru of the asuras, guesses that Vamana is none other than Lord Narayana Himself. So he takes the form of a bee, and blocks the spout of the kamandala. Sensing his intention, the Lord pricks Sukracharya’s eye, with His ‘darbha pavitram.’ This incident is mentioned by Periazhvar in one of his ‘Acho paruvam’ verses. Sukracharya is blinded in one eye. With Sukracahrya out of the way, the water flows freely, and Mahabali’s act of giving acquires finality.

The Lord then assumes gigantic proportions, measures the three worlds and asks Mahabali where He is to place His foot now. Humbled, Mahabali says the Lord should put His foot on his head, and the Lord pushes Mahabali down to the netherworld. The generous Mahabali is not slain by the Lord. Mahabali, Parasurama, Markandeya, Anjaneya,Vyasa, Asvattama and Vibhishana are all Chiranjeevis.

One who harms others is an adhaman; one who lives and lets live is a madhyaman. But one who only thinks of the good of others and never of Himself, is an uthaman.

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