Saturday, September 27, 2008

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 139 (of Vol 2) Dated 07 August 2008

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 139 (of Vol 2) Dated 07 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 957, of volume 2, of the Tamil original, as a continuation of Deivathin Kural # 138 of 05 August 2008.)

89. When Ravana’s cahoots tied a piece of cloth in Hanuman’s tail, dipped it in oil and lighted it up, because of the power of faithfulness of Sita, Hanuman never felt the heat! When Kumarila Bhattar was roasting himself in the smoldering fire of rice-husk, because of the proximity of Sankara Acharya Swamigal, he never felt the heat! Many women in the past, being truly devoted to their husbands, have experienced the fire of the funeral pyre of their husbands, to be as cool as being anointed with sandal wood paste! The sari that they wore remained unaffected by the fire and so was kept as a souvenir to be revered!

90. Still greater intensity of devotion to the husband is demonstrated by the wife, who drops her mortal coil, the moment she gets to know that her husband is dead. In the story of Kanangi - Kovalan, the Queen of Pandyan dynasty, is one such! Her husband dies the moment he gets to know that there has been a miscarriage of justice! Immediately, the queen dies too! There is a similar story about Padmavati the wife of Jayadeva(who sang the Ashtapati). In that story, the Queen was trying to test the sincerity of Padmavati’s devotion to her husband. She just mentioned in fun that Jayadeva had died somewhere that he had gone to. Padmavati dropped dead on hearing it. The Queen felt greatly for having played that prank, thereby being instrumental for Padmavati’s death! Then it was that, Jaydeva sang appealing to Sri Krishna, who revived the dead Padmavati back to life!

91. It was woman of that sort of intensity of devotion to their husband, who willingly entered the funeral pyre of their husbands. To compulsorily force a woman to be burnt alive on her husband’s funeral pyre, is totally contrary to Indian ethos of life and beliefs. Not only that there was no forcing but rather, all efforts would have been made to prevent such self immolation by the friends and relatives! Amongst Pandu’s two wives was Madri, the mother of Nakula and Sahadeva. She was feeling guilty for having had sex with her husband despite the curse debarring them from doing so. So, when she was interested in doing the ‘Sati’ the elders of the society did not prevent her. But when Kunti the other wife also came forward to commit self immolation, they told her, “No! You have to be alive to take care of the five children who will be orphaned, if you also die!” and thus prevented her from doing so!

92. Appar Swamigal, before getting that name, was known as ‘Marul Neekkiyar’ when he was a child. His father Pugazhanar died, when Appar was still very young. Periya Puranam says that his mother Madiniyar did ‘Udan Kattai Erudal’ that is, ‘Sati’ in Tamil. At that time, Appar’s elder sister Tilakavati had been engaged to be married to one ‘Kalippagaiyar’, a Senapaty in the Pallava Army. With Pugazhanzr’s death and his wife Madiniyar’s self immolation on the husband’s funeral pyre, came news from the battle field that Kalippagaiyar had attained to ‘Veera Swarga’. Now look at the devotion of Tilakavati to her not yet married husband Kalippagaiyar! She reportedly said, “When elders have decided to get me married to Kalippagaiyar, I am as good as his wife. I just cannot think of another man as a partner for life! I should give up my life as a good devoted ‘Karppukku Arasi’ is required to do!” So saying, she started like an arrow from the bow! Her younger brother Marul Neekkiyar pleaded with her saying “How can I live all by myself, if you also forsake me? If you do a Sati, I will also jump into the same fire and give up my life too”, he cried! So, out of compulsion she decided to live for the sake of her younger brother, but as a celibate. Later, when he went away to Jainism, it was she who was responsible for bringing him back to Hinduism and that too as ‘Appar’ the great Tamil poet of Tevaram; one of the foremost of the 63 Nayanmar-s deified as great devotees of Siva! That is yet another story!

93. The great women of Rajastan especially have followed this, ‘saha gamana’ method. I wanted to mainly emphasize that, this ’Udan Kattai Erudal’ was not a compulsory imposition on widows! But those who decide to do so, have that ’right’ as recognized by our Dharma. After the death of the husband, very few decide to give up their own life as they perceive their continued existence as being futile, these days. May be one in a million or ten millions, do feel so. That is why we hear about them in the news, that they did so, despite being debarred by the law of the land and in spite of relatives trying to prevent such an end! I used to think that to do so in these modern times is something really special! May be in the past some of those ‘Sati’ cases could have been without much of deliberation and understanding. So, I feel that those who end their life on the funeral pyre of their husbands, now-a-days are more genuine!

94. Similarly, I think about another matter. I often talk about Guru Kula Vasam. Like the Sati, this Guru Kula Vasam is also a forgotten concept. What was the way of life in the past, all over India, has been made impossible these days. In these times, if there is some place where Guru Kula Vasam is being conducted and if there are some students who earn their living by, ‘Bikshacharyam’ / begging; I would consider it as much more genuine!

95. As Sanyasam is not compulsory, so was ‘saha gamanam’ or ‘Sati’ not compulsory, as some people have made it out to be, sensationally! I will give you a solid reason for my this statement that, ‘Sati’ was not compulsory. Dharma Sastra-s have elaborate instructions on how the widows have to behave in the house-hold and the society! If everyone were to adopt the Sanyasa Ashrama, there would not have been a Dahana Samskara. Similarly, if every widow was meant to burn with the dead body of her husband, then there was no need for defining copious instructions of ‘Vidava Dharma’!

96. No one can predict as to when death happens. It can happen in young / teen / middle / old ages. So one cannot expect everyone to reach the physical and mental maturity to take up the Sanyasa Ashram before death. So, at least for those who die without Sanyasa, the Dahana Kriya has to be explained in detail. But in the case of widows the situation is not exactly similar. If every widow was required to die on her husband’s funeral pyre, then there was no need whatsoever for elaborate instructions on ‘Vidava Dharma’! That means that as per the Sastra-s, all the widows were not expected to do a ‘Sati’ as made out by the so called reformists!

(To be continued)



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