Friday, September 12, 2008

Deivathin Kural # 35 of (Vol 2) of 16 Oct 2007.

Om Namah Sivaya.

Deivathin Kural # 35 of (Vol 2) of 16 Oct 2007.

(continued from DK # 34 of 12 Oct 2007. I hope that you have noticed that 'yaagam' and 'yagnam' and 'velvi' are synonymous. )

Is there Sacrifice of Live Animals in Kali Yuga?

140. There is one arguement. In the earlier Yugas, people were with much finer qualities, greater capabilities and better behaved. With great love in their hearts, they could give live sacrifices too. So they could give a horse or cow as sacrifice in Yaagas. They could include meat as part of the menu, while doing 'Srardham' for the departed souls. There were people who were totally detatched in mind in their worldly involvement, but were householders in the Karma Marg, doing 'nish kamya karma' in 'grhastashrama'. The same person, on assuming vanaprastha and then sanyasa ashrama, could completely cut out all their activities, without pooja, sandhya vandana, become 'parivrajakas', roaming about as homeless mendicants, not sticking to one place for more than one day or night, living on alms! Can you think of it? Never feeling the compulsion to say, " Do You Know who I was?" There are occassions when, seeing that a brother who is a King is issueless, could function inlieu of the King for siring a child, without any passion or lust, so as to ensure that the Kingdom does not go ungoverned, lest there is a break in law and order. In 'Kali Yuga' can there be such, 'attitude of nish kamya karma?', such 'killing with kindness' in sacrifice in Yagnas?, or such 'giving up' of all attachments and involvement in Sanyasa?, or, maintenance of celibacy even in the act of sex? So, it is said that, these five things namely, Aswamedham, Gomedham, serving of Meat in Srardham, Sannyasam, Production of child on behalf of the brother; are five things not to be done in Kali Yuga!
"aswaalambam gavaalambam sannyasam pala paitrukam I devarena suta utpattim kalou pancha vivarjayet II"

141. Some people claim that the first word, instead of 'aswalambam', should have been, 'agnyadanam' ('agni aadaanam'). That would mean a taboo for all Yagnas, in Kali. Yaaga means, something done with fire and in so doing, the first action is 'agni aadaanam'. If you put a total prohibition for all 'agniaadaanam', in Kali Yuga; then other than the seven 'Bhaga Yagnas' all others will have to be stopped and this chapter can stop here!
Qualified experts on the subject do not think that to be a correct interpretation. Sankara Bhagawath Paadaal, who came to re-establish the Vaidik Way of Life, said, "...Vedo nityam adheeyatam..." meaning, that 'Veda is to be chanted every day'. He did not stop at that. He went on to further add, "... tat uditam karma: anushteeyatam...". What is that 'Karma', that he is referring to? It is 'yagnya karma' and nothing else. So, we may leave some yagnya karmas requiring animal sacrifice, as not to be done, in Kali yuga; but not all.

142. Moreover, if the first word was supposed to be 'agniyaadaanam', then all such big Yaagas requiring animal sacrifice were to be forbidden, then why seperately mention, 'gavaalambam'? When all 'agni aadaanam' goes, 'gavaalambam' goes automatically! So, that correction that the first word in that slokam should read, 'agniadanam' can not be correct. So, other than some, all other Yaagas have to be done at all times, including during Kali Yuga.

143. There is another Sloka that is quoted from Dharma Saastras, as per which, as long as there are some chanting of Veda Mantras and some differentiation based on caste; 'Agni aadanam' of Yaaga Karma and Sannyasa; could continue to be there. It says in Sanskrit, "...yaavat varna vibhago asthi; yaavat veda pravartate...". Anyhow, the forbidden things in Kali Yuga are; some types of sacrifice of live animals, serving meat in Sraardham and sex in lieu of brother for the sake of progeny!

People Conducting Yaagas.

144. The person spending money and material and responsible for conducting the Yaaga is called, 'Yajamaanan'. As we have noted earlier, to 'Yaj' is to pray. (I do not know, if this word led to 'Haj', applied to Muslims going on a pilgrimage to Mecca, since they are anyhow going there to pray only! A point for those interested in Philology.) In Tamil Nadu, the shop keeper, land owner, mill owner etc., are called 'yajamaanan', a generic term. Since he gives the worker the wages, it has become the custom to call the pay-master, 'yajamaanan' or 'yajaman' for short. This is also indicative of how deep rooted the practice of Veda was in the society.

145. There is another word in South India as well as all over the country; indicative of the intimacy of 'Vaidik way of Life' to the common man. When a major Yagna is organised, there used to be some accommodation created, where the participants and visitors to the function could stay for a period and where they would be fed free of cost. These places are called 'Dharmasthala or Dharma Saalai'. People staying there were called, 'chatras' and the place used to be called 'sathiram or chatram'. This word comes from, 'sathram', which is the name of a Yaagam. The difference in it is that, in all other Yaagam, one rich man spends his wealth, purchases the materials, pays the 'Dakshina' for the Ritwiks and the guests expenditure. In this Yagnam, all the participants are 'Yajamaaners'. Though in other Yaagams too, the observers and visiters get the benefit of 'punniyam' (merits as different from demerits of sinful activities) and 'chitta suddhi' (cleaning up of the mind of pride and ignorance). But, in the 'Sathra Yaagam', the Ritwiks themselves are the Yajamaaners. Everybody gets equal merits. This is a Yaagam of the Socialistic pattern. With this idea, a place where anyone could come and eat to his stomach's and heart's content, came to be known as 'sathiram' in Tamil. This also shows that the provider's nobility of character in such places that, he did not consider himself to be superior to the persons using the facility. Of course, it is also indicative of the evident fact that, 'Sathra Yaagam' was quite a regular event of life in Tamil Nadu.

146. The Brahmins who were knowledgeable and qualified enough to conduct the yaagams on behalf of the Yajamaanan, and who got paid for their efforts as 'Dakshina' from him at the end, were known as 'Ritwiks'. Though this word has been in usage in this talk / e-mail; the meaning of the word is that they were qualified experts in Veda Mantras and the procedural aspects of conduct of Yagnas. Amongst the 'Ritwiks', there were functional appointments such as, 'Hotaa, Udgaataa, Advaryu and Brhma!' 'Hotaa' chants the Rik Veda Mantras through which he invokes the Devatas and calls them to come forward to recieve their share of the 'Aahuti'. (This word has remained in circulation to the extent that, in North India, some people have got this as the family name; and in South India, when someone is comfortably well to do, he is said to be living in much, "hotaa".)

147. Rik Vedam contains many Mantras directly addressing individual Gods. In Yajur Veda, there is more procedural directions for conduct of functions. The person who could guide you by the correct procedues with the appropriate Mantras, that is, well versed in both Rik and Yajur Vedas, such a person was known as 'Advaryu'. Now about 'Udgataa'. Saama Veda, has many songs in praise of the virtues of Gods. Having invoked a particular Deity, by way of the Rik Veda Mantra and offered the 'Havir Bhagam' as per the procedure given in Yajur Veda, as directed by 'Advaryu'; now you sing that portion of the Sama Veda as applicable to that particular Deity. This job is better done by, 'Udgaata', who knew Saama Veda and knew how to sing well in a loud enough voice, as suitable to a big gathering, in the days gone by, when there was no 'loud speakers'! So, 'Udgaata' was a 'knowledgeable loud singer'! The one who could orchestrate all this, (had to be knowledgeable in all Vedas and procedure), was known as the 'Brhma' of the function. Evidently, he was generally a Chattopadhyaya or Chatterjea or Chathurvedi!

148. Veda itself was known as Brhma. So a person knowledgeable in Veda was a 'Vediyar' or Brahmanar'. So, we can see that a caste which did this job, from generation to generation, was known as 'Brahmins'. This is not a caste name, but a professional title. When you do not do this, you are no more a Brahmin, says Veda, because, Veda says that Brahmin is by action and being and not by birth!. 'Adhyapakam or Teaching' and 'Adhyayanam or learning', thus went on from Father to Son and Guru to Sishya. On the same lines, the young boy learning Veda / Brhma, was known as, 'a person moving in Brhma' a Brhma + charyi = Brhmachary. Here, in conduct of Yagna, the co-ordinating supervisor was known as Brhma. Thus Hotaa, Advaryu, Udgaata and Brhma, represent the four Vedas, (Brhma as the fourth, represents all the four Vedas).

149. In later days, it has been noticed that, the ease acquaintance and familiarity that Hotaa, Advaryu and Udgathaa, had with Rik, Yajur and Saama Vedas respectively, Brhma did not have with Atarva Veda. In practice too, people were more familiar with the first three Vedas, with only a passing acquaintance, with Atharva Veda. Actually Brhma had much less to do. Often Advaryu would ask Brhma's permission and he would give permission with a 'Ohm'. In Soma Yagaas, Brhma had a more noticeably prominent role to play. In Soma Yaaga, Brhma is the head of three Ritwiks known as, Brahmanachamsi, Aagneedaran and Botha. His duties while doing so, is given in Atharva Veda Samhita Cantos 19 and 20. Actually, whenever there is an error in chanting or in procedure, it is the Brhma, who is to make amends. However, over a period, there is less number of people following the Atharva Veda, to this extent that, Vedas are being referred as 'Thrayee' or the Trio, not including the Atharva Veda. In Atharva Veda, Yaagas are aplenty for 'Shantikam' for peaceful purposes; 'Poushtikam' for nourishment; and 'Aabhicharakam' for enemy's destruction. There is a mention of Indra Jeet, son of Ravanaa conducting an Atharvana Yaaga at Nikumbalai; in Ramayanam. But the fact remains that, Atharvana Vedam is on the decline in practice.

Rik -Yajus-Saamam-Atharvam.

150. "Anantha vai veda:"--Vedas are countless. Still Rishis have identified and given only a limited numbers. For our worldly, heavenly,and otherworldly welfare, these are good enough. What are we going to do with all the knowledge of all the Vedas? Are we going to create worlds as Brhma has done? It is enough if we know some for this world's and it's inhabitant's welfare. Thus these four Vedas have been given to us. In these also there is quite a lot of different versions. These are known as 'Paata Beda' or 'Paata Antharam'. Like singing the same Raga in music, there is GNB style and Maharajapuram Paani and so on. Similarly there could be some Suktas in one version, not found in another. The order in which the Suktas occur may be varied. These differentiations are like the smaller branches of a tree. It is called 'shaka' meaning branch. Have you seen the Adyar Aalamaram? It is like that. Though divided in to the four main branches, it is intertwined and inter connected.

151. Though some analyst may say that one Vedam is older and the other of a later date, as far as the Saastras are concerned, they are all 'Anaadi'. Once you know that they are predated to the very creation, investigation about their Date of Birth, is a waste of time! What matters is that, they are all useful still. Within the one branch of Rik, Yajur, Saama and Atharva Vedas, each has its Samhitai, Brahmanam, and Aaranyakam. Again investigation into which one amongst them is older or younger; is of no cosequence. Once we believe that the Rishis were capable of looking and comprehending beyond the confines of Space and Time; then would we be interested in any analysis of Time and Space concerning the Vedas? We would only be interested in the concepts and principles of the subject content. Is it not so?

152. In Rik Vedam itself, there are many places referring to Yajur and Saama Vedas. In the Rik Veda, in the 10th Mandalam, 90th Suktam, there is Purusha Suktam, in which there is a mention of other Vedas. So you can gather that, the question of who is first and who is later; is irrelevant! Each Vedam has its own Samhitai, Brahmanam and Aaranyakam. When we do Adhyayanam, it is the Samhitai part that is by-hearted and fully understood. Samhitai as a word means, what has been systematically serialised and organised. We may print out a book of the Samhitai portion and call it by the name of that Veda!

153. The entire Rik Veda Samhita is in poetical form. What was later known as a poem or Sloka, was known as a Rik. The main difference between the two is that, a Rik is chanted as per a set method. There is a basic 'Swara' or pitch. Each word or letter of a word is pronounced at that basic pitch or a step higher or two steps higher or a step lower than the normal; known respectively as, 'samam, udaattam, anudaattam and swaritam'. The whole of Rik Veda Samhitai is like this only. Many Stotras about many Devatas. Each Rik is a Mantra. Many Riks about each Devata, go to make one Suktam. In Rik Veda Samhitai, there are 10,170 Riks in 1028 Suktas.

( We will see more about the organisation of the Vedas, in the next e-mail. To be continued.)




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