I hope you enjoyed reading about the Manjadikuru, the magical red seeds, and the folklore associated with it. Here’s the second part of this series on the various items kept in the brass uruli inside my pooja room.
Not sure if you have heard of Shiva Nadi. Nadi leaves (Olai Chuvadi/Ola) are plam leaves on which horoscopes were written in ancient times. I have myself seen quite a few of these as my parents’ horoscopes are written on these Nadi leaves. Nadi astrology originated in the southern part of India and was put into practice by many sages. Sage Agasthya was a great disciple of Lord Shiva and he was able to write the future of a person from just his thumb impression. Nadi scripts are written on palm leaves and is extensively used in Vaitheeswaran Kovil in Tamilnadu. It is believed that these scripts are passed over to them generations after generations.
In Siva Nadi, the predictions start with a dialogue between Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, who requests Lord Shiva to tell the predictions of her son/daughter. Lord Shiva then gives the predictions. The Maha Siva Sukshama Naadi is more exhaustive and accurate in predicting events as compared to Kousika and Agasthiya Naadi or other Naadi Jyotisham followed by others in the south.
Karthikeya (Subramanya, Muruga, Kumara, Velayudha or Skanda), the eldest son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, with his divine power memorized all the scriptures of Sanatana Dharma, a subject too vast to assimilate in the lifetime of a human being. It is said that even before his birth he had overheard the Shiva Naadi Jyotisham as Lord Shiva was explaining it to Goddess Parvati and he had memorized that as well. Once Lord Shiva approached Karthikeya and said, “As you have comprehensive knowledge of the scriptures and all the branches of Vedic science, you are also perfectly versed in the science of jyotisha (Vedic astrology). Please tell me what it says about my future. “
Karthikeya obediently prepared a birth chart of his father after reading the various bundles of Nadi leaves. Examining it for a moment, he looked up and said,
“You will have two wives, no possessions to speak of, and you will spend your entire life as a homeless beggar with no place to call your own.”
Hearing Karthikeya’s predictions, Shiva said, “It is true that you can accurately predict the future, but you don’t know the correct way to share that information with others. Even when describing your own father’s life, you make it sound so shameful. How will you disclose the information to ordinary humans then? Instead of presenting your predictions in a positive light, you speak indiscriminately and wound others with your words. Henceforth, even if you and all those who study the science of jyotisha have all the correct information at your fingertips – time and place of birth, and the positions of the stars and constellations at that time – you’ll not be able to predict anything with complete accuracy.”
Saying this, Lord Shiva threw the bundles of the Nadi leaves into the ocean. Some of the leaves were ingested by the organisms in the ocean, like the shells, snails molluscs and the likes. Only a few could be saved by Karthikeya. This is why it is believed that these shells hold information about our future and can help in predictions. And thus it is believed that the cowrie shells help the Panikkar or the astrologer to predict the future with great accuracy. Cowrie shells are used in traditional astrology in South India to predict the future.
I have grown up in a traditional family where the first thing that was done as soon as a child was born, is to call the Panikkar, share details of the time and place of birth of the child and request him to prepare their birth chart. The Panikkar then chose a day to come and read the chart for everyone’s understanding. The cowrie shells are held locked inside the right palm of the astrologer. The astrologer then shakes the hand well and throws the cowrie shells on the ground. The astrologer then counts the number of shells that have turned upside down. I used to find it all a little too scary as a toddler. Later I was fascinated by the different types of cowry (kowdi) shells that he used to calculate and recalculate the places of the grahas and nakshatras in a person’s chart. All I could make out of the reading was Budhan, Shukran, Shani, Chovva, Rahu, Ketu, Suryan, Chandran and a million different houses and apaharams.
The Kerala method of delineation of horoscopes using ‘cowries’ (sea shells) is highly valued for its accuracy, according to astrologers from India and abroad. These kowdi shells were also used in ancient times as currency. As kids we have also played various games using these kowdis including Ludo and Snakes and Ladders. These sea shells and cowries are believed to depict a form of wealth which creates a spiritual ambience. They are also believed to attract positive energy and financial prosperity.Hence they are kept in your home temple. These are used in the worship of Lord Maha Vishnu and Goddess Maha Lakshmi. It is said Yellow Kowdi or Cowry attracts the blessings of Lord Kubera, the God of wealth and Goddess Mahalakshmi who brings in more avenues and sources of income.
Similarly, Gomti Chakra is another type of shell that I have in my pooja room. This is also believed to be a favourite of Goddess Lakshmi.
And who doesn’t need money or wealth?
As for my view on astrology, I do believe in it as a science of calculations. Just like I believe in Quantum Physics or the Theory of Relativity. But I do not go to any astrologer or follow any astrological predictions as my belief in that Supreme Power that controls us is far more than any or all astrologers and sciences combined. Whatever has to happen, will happen. We can’t stop it. It’s a myth. All we can do is strengthen ourselves mentally and physically to endure and overcome it.
DISCLAIMER – This story is purely based on an article I read as a teeneager and there is no factual evidence to prove the authenticity of this content. No intent to hurt any religious or regional sentiments. And most importantly, I am not an astrologer.