Saturday, September 27, 2008

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 138 (of Vol 2) Dated 05 August 2008

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 138 (of Vol 2) Dated 05 August 2008

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by Periyaval of Kanchi Kamakoti peetam, over a period of some sixty years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of last century. These have been published in Tamil by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each, as Deivathin Kural. To day we are proceeding from the middle of page number 952, of volume 2, of the Tamil original, as a continuation of Deivathin Kural # 137 of 29 July 2008.)

81. Let me tell you something about the Soma Yagna-s. These are also known as ‘Soma Samsthai’. What is Samsthai? The end of Sama Veda Stotra-s that Udghata sings, towards the end of the conduct of a Soma Yagna, is called Samsthai. As per Vedic traditions, the Rik Veda Stotras are called, ‘Sastra’. (Please note that all the scriptures are collectively known as, ‘Saastra-s’, as different to ‘Sastra‘.) This Sastra when sung, using the Sapta-swara-s of the musical octave, is known as ‘Stotram’. This singing of the Stotra-s is very important, as a part of ‘Soma Yagna-s’.

82. In Paaka and Havir Yagna-s and other Yagna-s too, the offering of various materials as oblations in the fire to the accompaniment of Vedic mantras is the most important activity. But in Soma Yagna-s, it is the singing of the Stotra-s which holds the pride-of-place! In Soma Yagna-s the Homam part, that is, offering of materials including ‘pasu’ and ‘soma -rasa’ in the fire, is of less importance, as compared to the singing of Stotra-s. Thus Soma-Yagam is more Sama-ganam! This singing could be very captivating and thrilling. In Carnatik music concerts, you may notice that, as the singer gradually reaches the higher notes, he elevates and ennobles the hearts and minds of the audience to awesome pinnacles of supreme well being! Similarly in Sama-gana, Sama-yagna-s, at the time of Samsthai, the participants would be literally transported to the high heavens! That is why the Sama-Yagna-s have come to be known as ‘Samsthai’ itself.

83. In the Soma-Yagna-s, Hoda, Advaryu, Brhma and Udghata; would all not only be there, but be assisted by three other Ritwik-s each. Thus, these Soma-yagna-s would have the full compliments of 16 Ritwik-s. In the seven Soma-Yagna-s, ’Agnishtomam’ is Prakriti. All the other six Soma-Yagna-s are its Vikritis. They are called, Atyagnishtomam, Ugdyam, Shodasi, Vaajapeyam, Athiraatram and Abdoryaamam, respectively. Amongst these, Vajapeyam is very special. When the Yajamaanan who is conducting the Yagna by financing it, comes after having had his bath, at the end of the Yagna, (this ceremonial bath is known as ’Avabruta Snaanam’), the King himself holds the white silk umbrella aloft, in honour of that Yajamaanan! The Vajapeya Yagna is held in such exalted veneration. ‘Vajam’ means food, and ‘peyam’ means drinkable. This Yagna causes such well-being in the land that, there is good rains and excellent agricultural harvest. In this Yagna, Soma rasa, 23 animal’s-products and cooked rice/pulses, are all offered in the homam. Whatever is left unused as balance, is used to do ‘Abhishekam’ of the Yajamaanan. Since ‘vajam’ itself is rained as a ‘peyam’ over the person of Yajamaanan, it is appropriate that, the Yagna is called, ‘Vajapeya Yagna’.

84. There used to be a saying that, ‘all the wealth of a Brahmin are meant for the Soma Yagna’. A lot of expenditure is involved in catering for all the material required in the Yagna; for paying the Ritwik-s their remuneration and for taking good care of the visitors / guests. Now-a-days we have not only let the conduct of such expensive Yagna-s go by default, but also do not do even do the Sandya Vandanam, in which there is no expenditure involved! Even as late as some four or five decades back, amongst Namboodri Brahmin families of Kerala, at least in one-in-ten families, anyhow this Yagna will get conducted. It is the eldest of the family, who was entitled to do this and so, the family property would accrue to him.

85. Since this is best done in the spring season, that is the Vasanta Ritu, there have been Brahmins who collect the necessary funds by begging throughout the year, so as to be able to conduct the Soma Yagna in the Spring. They used to be known as, ‘prati vasanta somayyaji-s’, meaning, those who do Soma Yagna every spring! Even if you do not do all the Soma Yagna-s, if only the first of the Soma Yagna-s, ‘Jyotishtomam’ is done every year, it would be good enough to revive the Vedic way of life! With these 21 Yagna-s, the 40 Samskaras are over and done!

Other Samskaras.

86. Though not mentioned as part of these 40 samskaras, all Hindus should do, ‘Karna Vedanam’ and ‘Aksharabyaasam’. Karna Vedanam is piercing the ear and Aksharabyasam is the introduction to the ‘Akshara-s’ or letters, by which the young person starts learning to Read and Write! Though not included in the 40 samskaras, the end disposal of the body after death of the person, known as ‘Anthyeshti’, with the necessary mantras, is a must! As anyhow the individual has gone beyond any communication, this becomes rather a responsibility of the kith and kin, as part of Pithru Karya.

87. For a person who has been an ‘aahitagni’, that is someone who has been doing his Agni Karya-s regularly, the ‘Gruhyagni’ and the three ‘Tretagni’ are all combined for the ‘Dahana Samskara’. The very fire that he had been protecting and nurturing all these years of his life, comes to his help to take him to ever sacred worlds of ‘Punya Loka-s’. If he did not take care the Tretagni but did only Oupaasanam, then it is the Oupaasana Agni that is used for the Dahana Karya. This is only for that person who has died without taking Sanyasa, since there is no Dahanam for the Sanyasi. Since the Dahana Karyam is specially revered as ‘Antyeshti’, we could gather that only some small percentage of people took the end Ashrama of Sanyasa, after sufficient maturity. For all others, it was accepted in the Saastras that, they may die without that Ashrama and it was not compulsory that everyone should be taking Sanyasa!

‘Sati’ - The Custom of Widow Sacrificing Her Life.

88. While talking of Sanyas not being compulsory, I have to touch upon the custom of ‘Sati’ also. Many of the reformists have made an issue out of what is known as, ‘Sati / Saha Gamanam / Udan Kattai Erudal’, as though every woman who lost her husband was compulsorily, cruelly forced to burn herself at the funeral fire of her husband! I do not if such a heinous crime was committed in some place! May be, but not to my knowledge. What I do know and should make it clear here is that, as per the Saastras, this was not required or necessary or compulsory! Only those who were willing and did not wish to continue living after the Love of their Life is no more, were enabled to give up their life like this! Even In my childhood, I have heard of such happening, where the relatives were crying, “Oh! God! How can you let yourself be burnt alive like this, how much you must be suffering?” I have heard that the Lady replied with a smile on her face, “No! I am not being incarcerated! I am dying with the pleasure of embracing my Husband!”

(To be continued.)