Monday, January 14, 2013


How may of us in Badettu family really believe in God? A very difficult question to answer? Of course it is difficult because no body might have seen the God in whatever name He is known. The Shivalli brahmins of Madhwa community are supposed to have migrated or brought from Bihar region centuries ago and settled in the area around the Shivahalli village which even to day exists in south Karnataka. If originally they were shaivites, how come to day their lives center around Krishna, a positive symbol of Vaishnavism? Whatever may be the past history, Madhwas are devote vaishnavites though they do worship all gods and goddesses.

Badettu family is a classical example of worshiping Vishnu in many forms, Rama, Krishna or Narasimha though they also pay obeisance to Shiva, Ganapathi, Durga, Subrahmanya. All the members of first generation were reported to be pious Brahmins following the rich traditions being followed by earlier generations. Who can forget the regular and elaborate morning poojas performed in the family houses at Padubidri, Kollam and Alleppey taking 1-2 hours to complete the rituals. Besides regular daily poojas, monthly Ganapathi Homa and Durga Namaskara rituals were conducted monthly and probably if the off springs of these ancestors are enjoying a peaceful and decent life, at least a small credit must go to them. If we believe in natural justice, the good things and bad things done by our ancestors do visit the later generations also. Measured by any yardstick Badettu family is indeed a blessed one and relatively small number of mishaps experienced by the generations that followed the second generation stalwarts reflects this fact. Added to this the founder of this family, Narnappaya had the divine blessings of the almighty Shakti as he was one of the most famous Pathiris of Brahmasthana.

A question often asked by youngsters from later generations is how relevant are the rituals being performed at home or in temples in to day's knowledge and science driven environment? Rationalists invariably point out that there is no God as no one has seen the same and every thing that happens in this world is pure coincidence! But these doubting Thomases are forgetting that "seeing is believing" is not always true. Has any one seen electricity and if so how does it look like? What about electrons and protons? Same is true regarding light waves and electromagnetic radiations. Every day we use microwave ovens but can we see this with naked eye? But we all experience their manifestation in one form or the other, don't we? Does not this inspire confidence and belief in their existence? Therefore belief in God gives a different dimension to life. When our fathers, mothers and other elders leave this world, where can we go as social animals, seeking solace, comfort and guidance? Of course the God!      

Here is an interesting story that may throw some light on the concept that we are being observed every minute of our life by some power and our life is after all a balance sheet of good and bad. In response to a job ad 10 candidates presented themselves for interview in a reputed company and each one was ushered in for the same to meet a panel of experts. The candidates were sitting in a room adjacent to the meeting place and as each one of them completed the interview, their reactions varied from despair, frustration, ecstasy, anger and abusive disposition depending on their performance. Only one person called as the last candidate was very calm, composed and quite without showing any of the conundrums of the others and after his interview he came out quietly and exited without uttering any word to others. When he got the appointment letter, he was a little surprised because he was not satisfied by the type of questions asked by the experts and disappointed by his over all performance. Before joining the job, he met the CEO of the company and expressed his desire to know why he was selected over looking the credentials of others some of whom were more qualified than him. To his surprise he was told that it was his disciplined behavior, systematic actions, orderly disposition, calm appearance, confident demeanor that landed him the job. The CEO further told him that all his qualities were observed by the expert panel through the CCTV installed in the waiting room!. Then came the realization to him that every human being where ever he or she may be, is being observed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days an year and throughout the life span and more good things one does, more will be the benefit flowing out of such positive actions. One may call it God or by any name!

 How many members of Badettu family has witnessed a Thambila or Dakkebali at Brahmasthana? Probably those, especially from older generations must have participated in these unique "seva" at this shrine, though the memories must be fading fast with old age. But the image of a huge person like Badettu Narnappaya performing the role of a pathiri cannot be easily forgotten. When "possessed" or in trance he was immune to any physical pain like the effect of burning wicks in his palm or the heavy thud when he falls on the ground. Similarly many people do humanly impossible acts like piercing a spear (vel) through the tongue or piercing their backs with metal hooks and being allowed to go in procession during thaipusam festival or walking on live embers with apparently no burns on their feet and all these cannot be easily explained by to day's science. All these are pointers that there exists a super natural force much above man and if millions of people in this planet irrespective of their religious affiliation go to temples, churches, synagogues and mosques, it is to seek possible protection and reinforce the mental strength to deal with day to day uncertainties of life. Why are millions of people go on pilgrimage to far away temples and shrines like Vaishno Devi, Tirupathi, Sabarimalai, Giruvayur, Badrinasth, Kedarnath, etc which involves treacherous journey causing intense suffering and lot of physical strain? It is their faith in the super natural power that they hope will solve their problems and help them to be happy in life!

Religion is a complex issue and no one can be a complete expert on it. With successive generations, the doubt about God seems to be increasing among many youngsters for many reasons. But also true is the remarkable dedication and reverence a few of the youngsters show even to day and one may ascribe this to the early training in the family with orthodox background. Is it not a pleasant surprise that the successor to the late Vokkaliga pontiff in Karnataka is a M.Tech engineer graduated from IIT, Madras? It is a truth that to day the number of temples and other worshiping centers is increasing by leaps and bounds as the complexity and unpredictability of life in the present day materialistic society are growing. If visiting such worshiping centers gives solace and strength to manage the day to day life better, there is nothing wrong and critics who call it "blind faith or superstition" better shut their mouth! Even psychologists agree that any activity that deflects the mind from issues worrying the mind can be beneficial to the person concerned.

I still remember my last visit to Admar when the much revered Paddakkaya, wife of late subbraya doddappa asked a very intriguing question regarding my living style. She wanted to know whether I still practice the mantra taught to me by our Ajja, Badettu Narnappaya, during my upanayana. Though I was flabbergasted by her sudden question, I just muttered that, though I do not remember all the mantras because of my sojourn away from my parents for almost 5 decades, I still chant at least 10 gayathri mantra every day where ever I am. She was so happy to hear that and gave her blessings unreservedly. Members of transitional generations like mine cannot abhor all the past practices but also cannot ignore them! Of course my contemporaries like Seena, Vedavyas, Vittala, Mohana, Govinda, Kicha and others still do their regular poojas every day without fail! Seena of Badettu House at Padubidri carries out faithfully all the traditional sacred functions started from Naranappaya's time regularly though he has settled down in far away Chennai. Can you believe that a person like Vittala, a reputed Chartered Accountant with name and fame in Alleppey can perform Satyanarayana Pooja effortlessly without assistance from a certified purohit? It is not known whether the fourth generation members are following the tradition of yesteryear. The Badettu Narnappaya and his brother Srinivasappayya traveled to Kerala several decades ago and earned their livelihood through shanti (daily poojas) in famous temples and even to day Narayana, son of Vasudeva of Kollam and Sethumadhawa son of Gopalakrishna of Haripad (third generation members) still go for Shanthi in some temples in Kerala though their children are well educated professionals earning good salaries, adequate enough to give their parents a comfortable retired life.

Having written a rambling essay above, I believe that God is within ourselves and more one helps others, more explicitly God expresses Himself in various forms. By helping others in need, you are helping yourselves!. All rituals and expression of Bhakthi through various means will have no meaning if you do not practice what Lord Krishna said to Arjuna; "do your duty to the best of your ability without thinking about the results, be it success or failure"

Answer to the last Quiz

Vasudeva, great grandson of Badettu Narnappaya, grandson of Subbraya and son of Raghupathi of Admar was the first post-graduate degree holder in Agriculture and to day he works in his specialized field of quality certification in agriculture including organic crops. Here is an example of how excellence can be achieved through hard work even if the environment is not so conducive to studies. Here are our wishes to him for holding the flag of Badettu family high in the coming years.

Quiz for the current issue

Who is the senior most living member of Badettu family?


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