Published:30 Dec 2019 7 PMUpdated:30 Dec 2019 7 PM  Sakthi Vikatan
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சக்தி விகடன் டீம்  Sakthi Vikatan Team
`மார்கழியில் பனி நீராடு’  = Daily Early Morning Ritual Baths in the Month of Mārgazhi in a River
பனி = Dew; Cold; Dewy month (= Mārgazhi & Thai months). நீராடு = Bathing.

1. We know the expression ‘Saṉi Nīrādu’ (Oil-bath on a Saturday). Do you know, likewise, there is an expression ‘Paṉi Nīrādu?’
2. The whole month of Mārgazhi is the early morning of the Devas: In the temples everywhere, the priests conduct early morning Ārāthaṉai and special worships in an ostentatious manner. Mārgazhi’s early morning Darsan in temple yields many unique blessings.
3. ‘Paṉi Nīrādu’ impresses on us the abundant benefits we must obtain by early morning baths in the month of Mārgazhi and participation in the worship of God. Mārgazhi Baths offer not only healthful benefits to the body but also solace to the mind and soul.
4. Here is a story on the greatness of Mārgazhi bathing.
5. This event took place in Kṛita Yuga.
பனி நீராடு Daily Early Morniong Ritual Baths in the Month of Mārgazhi   See the image above.
6. The Tapas was complete. It was time for chores. Hariswamy sat down. His friend came to see him. The Tapasvin gave half of his watermelon to the visitor. Eating Hariswamy’s watermelon caused horripilation to the visitor.
7. ‘Hariswamy! How sweet it is!’ This fruit is more delicious than ambrosia. I never ate thus far a delicious fruit like this. What is this? Tell me, my friend.’ Hariswamy began his narration.
8. “My friend, listen. Here in this ground, a watermelon vine given by Śivaperumāṉ thrives and flourishes. It yields one melon a day. That the eaters of the fruit will not suffer diseases or old age is the truth from Śiva.”
9. Bhāṉujith, the visitor, put on an air of happiness to hear what the Tapasvin said, and cooked up a scheme. The next day, upon his departure, he stole the whole melon unknown to the Tapasvin.
10. Hariswamy, having bid goodbye to his thieving friend, took all morning to finish his Aṉuṣtāṉams (observances). It was noon. His hunger pains were gnawing at him. Hariswamy looked at the melon vine. His heart skipped a beat. There was no melon on the vine.
11. ‘What is this? No theft took place so far in my Āśramam. This kind of theft is uncommon.’ While thinking thus, Hariswamy realized the truth.
12. ‘I gave the fruit to appease the hunger of the visitor. In turn, the ingrate stole my melon with no remorse. Can you loot the guest house without a hoot? Hariswamy cursed Bhāṉujith to become a fox.
13. Is it not a curse from the virtuous? It came true immediately. The thieving Bhāṉujith morphed into a fox, howling, squealing and crying.
14. The truth struck him head-on. Shucks! What man am I? I did betrayal to him. I should have been seeking Grace by doing Tapas. But I stole a melon and became a felon. He felt regretful.
15. Feeling sorry does not absolve a person from a curse. Bhāṉujith ran to Hariswamy, fell at his holy feet, and asked for mercy, saying, “My friend, please forgive me. I was treacherous to you. Being of human birth and a Muṉi, I was deceitful. I am now a fox. Please show me the path of remediation from this sorrow.” He cried before Hariswamy.
16. By seeing tears rolling down from his friend’s eyes, mercy welled up from the mind of Hariswamy, offered the means to absolution and said, “Take dips in the Thāmirabharaṇi River, worship Bhūvaṉēśvari. Your evil deeds will wither and vanish with the grace of Bhūvaṉēśvari.”
17. Bhāṉujith in the likeness of vulpine body worshipped as advised. In the month of Mārgazhi, he bathed in the Thāmirabharaṇi River and worshipped Bhūvaṉēśvari. An event interrupted his routine.
18. Pāṇḍya country king hanged some thieves on the riverside of the Thāmirabharaṇi. Bhāṉujith as a carnivorous fox, thought, “Āh! Today, I have the opportunity to eat good meat.”
19. Though he felt like a fox, Bhāṉujith’s intellect took charge. ‘What a shame! My grasping sin gave me not only the body of a fox but also the thought to eat the human flesh.’
20. What next! Bhāṉujith sporting then in the body, the mind, and the nature of the fox, tore the flesh from the dead bodies and deposited it in the river. The dead thieves minus their flesh of sin attained salvation. Bhāṉujith gave up his vulpine body and became human. When he died, he attained Śivagathi (final salvation of the soul).
21. Yamadharmaṉ’s narrated anecdote describes the benefits of ritual bathing in the month of Mārgazhi with helpful hints.
22. External purity of the body is attainable with water. The mental purity is knowable by the truth in one's speech. That is the saying of Thiruvalluvar. Bhāṉujith’s body became pure by bathing in the river. His mind became pure because he owned and accepted his wrong. That truth, uttered by Bhāṉujith, declaring his wrongful act, made his mind pure.
23. Don’t think whether it is doable to go to a place, take baths in the river prone to inundation in Mārgazhi and offer worship.
24. Don’t we get ATM cash from an allied or participant bank by using the credit card of your bank? Likewise, though we cannot go to Thāmirabharaṇi river for bathing and worship, we can get up early in the morning, take a bath in the privacy of our own homes, go to the neighborhood temple and offer worship.
25. Mārgazhi early morning temple Deity Darsan and participation in prayer and festivals give mental peace, perform the role of a faithful friend in enriching our deeds, and make our lives thrive and prosper.
Will grow