Since time immemorial, Indians have been fervently praying to the Navagrahas. Only a few decades ago, the Western world has been exploring the moon and the Mars planet. Only after 1900, the distance between the earth and the moon could be estimated by Western scientists. But we have explored the planets 5000 years ago through worship of the Navagrahas.
Our Hindu mythology says that the earth is round and all the grahas or planets revolve around the Sun. This is the reason our temples have always had the Navagrahas. Propitiating Sun as Sun God is part of our Hindu culture. The Gayatri Mantra talks about the Sun. Lord Ram recited the "Aditya Hridaya" stotram when he wanted to decimate the evil demon king Ravana. The Aditya Hridaya stotram sings praises about the Sun God. This hymn is particularly useful for those suffering from eye ailments. It is also useful to win over your enemies. The Sun is the only God whom we can see. Surya Namaskar is considered a vital part of yoga to free your mind from anxieties and tension and lose your flab.
Our ancestors had the foresight in recommending to us the powers of planets that can be invoked by prayers. This has both scientific and spiritual insights for us. Lord Rama was a descendant of Lord Surya. The immortal legend - Sri Kanchi Mahaperiyaval has always spoken about the importance of praying to the Navagrahas.
Mr V Chandrasekaran of Mulund, Mumbai says that during the early 60's when India and China were at war, the Kanchi Mahaperiyaval had strongly recommended chanting of the Kolaru Pathigam. What is the Kolaru Pathigam? What is its significance? How does listening to Kolaru Pathigam help us?
Dr S Jayabharathi has given a wonderful explanation about Kolaru Pathigam. This powerful hymn sung by Thiru Gnana Sambandhar pleads for Lord Shiva's protection against the ill effects of planets. This hymn, says Dr Jayabharathi, is not only good for removing the ill effects of planets and stars. It is used to overcome all ills, obstacles, dangers. The significance is that those who chant it or those who listen to it will find that all the evils eventually turn to good. This is what is reiterated again and again in the verses.
Manjula Panchapakesan swears by the Kolaru Pathigam. She has been reciting this hymn since the last 5 years. Recently she was supposed to travel by the Volvo bus in Karnataka. But she could not get a ticket on that bus. She was upset and dejected. She flew by air. Later on, she heard that the very bus that she was supposed to travel had met with an accident. She attributes it to the power of Kolaru Pathigam.
Thiru Gnana Sambandhar was a child prodigy who was the recipient of "Gnanapal" (divine milk) from Mother Parvathi herself. He became a child saint and was completely devoted to Lord Neelkanta Siva. Sambandhar met Appar (Thirunavukkuarasar) in a place called Vedaranyam. The Queen of the Pandya country sent an emissary to them saying that the King had become a Jain under the influence of Jain monks. She requested Sambandhar to visit Madurai and rid the country of Jains. But Appar was skeptical about this as he believed that the Jains could cause them harm. But Sambandhar smiled and sang the Kolaru Pathigam.
In Tamil, KOL means planets as well as evil. ARU in Tamil means that which cuts, shreds, blows into smithereens. The meaning of the word requires careful interpretation. What it actually means is that destruction of the evil effects of planets. For a devotee of Lord Neelakanta Siva who has Parvathi as his other half, chanting or listening to the hymn will convert all the evil into good. The last line of every verse contains this pledge and assurance. Each verse describes Lord Neelkanta Siva along with Goddess Uma Maheshwari. Interestingly, the hymn has references to Ravana. The hymn also says that Vishnu and Brahma would help the devotees of Siva.
Mrs Rajam Chandramouleeswaran says, " People often get confused with the number of shlokas, hymns that are available in our culture. My strong recommendation is that pick up one shloka and diligently stick to it. Do not go by advice given by others. Follow your gut instinct". Dr Venkataraman Ramakrishnan says, " Mantras/ shlokas/ hymns have tremendous power. When you chant them or listen to them, it is believed that the positive vibrations emanating from these hymns/ shlokas have an encompassing effect around your home".
Naresh Pattabhi, a student who had failed in his Class XII exams was so depressed that he thought of committing suicide. A resident of Tiruvanmiyur in Chennai, Naresh's father started reciting the Kolaru Pathigam religiously. Today Naresh has completed his MBA from University of Buffalo in the US and is all set to join GE. Chandrika Ramanathan, a resident of BTM Layout swears by the positive effects of Kolaru Pathigam. She had a gynaecological problem which got cured sooner than she had imagined. " In the end, it is all about the power of prayers", says Chandrika.
The unique feature of Kolaru Pathigam is that it addresses all the planets and pleads with Lord Neelkantha Shiva to reduce / erase the ill effects of planets.
Readers are requested to listen to the Kolaru Pathigam sung by Seerkazhi Govindarajan. It is mesmerizing and this is often played in the temples of Sankaran Koil and Nellayappar -Ganthimathi amman shrine in Tirunelveli.