Wednesday, October 15, 2008

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 5 (of Vol 3) Dated 14 Oct 2008

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 5 (of Vol 3) Dated 14 Oct 2008

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by Periyavaal 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 page number 21, of Vol 3, of the Tamil original. )
(Note:- All these Deivathin Kural e-mails are available in ‘’, which is being updated every time this e-mail is sent. )
1. Guru and Acharya, are two words generally used in the same sense. But experts do find the difference between the two. In next eight to nine e-mails, we will analyze all the implications of these two important words.
2. Definition of Acharya. The word 'Acharya' is related to the words, 'Acharanam' meaning, behaviour, comportment, observance etc; 'Aachaaram' meaning good habits or moral discipline; and 'chara' meaning, to move. Charitram from the word chara, means conduct, history, character and picture of life. It has connotations of mobility and movement as against being static, like the difference between, 'sthavara and jungama'. To follow a particular path is 'ozhukkam' in Tamil to mean discipline. 'Ozhuguvadu' in Tamil has connotation of regular movement and not only leaking! When the water falls as a stream, isn't there a continuity between the drops of water. This is more easily observed with the fall of oil. That is the continuous 'flow' as per the rules of behaviour given in the Saastraa-s. That is Aachaaram. One who does that is 'Acharya'.
3. Thus, it is important for the Acharya to behave in a disciplined manner, to be a role model for the student. In our Hindu religion, there are some common norms for all, such as Ahimsa(that is not to hurt others) and Sathyam(that is to abide by the Truth). In addition, there are many Sampradaya-s ( traditions ) that have evolved within what is the Hindu religion, with their separate rules and regulations, procedurally binding on the followers. So the Aachaaram part is slightly but compellingly binding, for Madhva-s. Vaishnava-s, Chaitanya-s, Nimbarkar-s and so on. So each separate sect has its own traditions of dress, procedures and methodology with their own implications.
4. Within Saiva-s, there are Saiva Siddhantists, Veera Saivam, Kashmiri Saivam, Pasupatam etc. Within the followers of Vishnu, there are Ekanti-s, Pancharatri-s, Vaikanasa-s, Vadakalai, Tenkalai and so on! They all have their own set of rules totally binding, exclusive of other's way of doing things. (KTSV adds:- Seen from this angle, Hindus in Democratic India are not a majority but a loose collection of many minorities! This is simultaneously, their greatest strength and weakest loose link too.) In each of these Sects or Sub-Sects, the person who lives abides exemplarily observing strictly the Dharma as per the Saastraa-s binding on them is the Acharya!
5. Some of you may have heard the definition (lakshana slokam), for the word, 'Acharya':- "aasinoti hi saastra artaat achaare stapayityapi I swayam aacharate yascha tam aacharyam prasatchate II". Let me translate this sloka. It means, 'one who knows by analysis the meaning of the saastraa-s, (it is understood that he also teaches the younger generation) and makes others observe the saastraa-s strictly by being an exemplary role model himself, is an Acharya. So he practices what he preaches. That is why 'aachaaram and anushtaanam' goes together, as does 'saastram and sampradaayam'. All these are closely interconnected. The Do’s and Don'ts of the Saastraa-s, when put into practice by the Acharya-s, the Sampradaaya or Tradition is automatically created such as, Sankara Sampradaaya and Ramanuja Sampradaaya.
6. While talking about Saastraa-s and Sampradaya-s, another point of differentiation comes to my mind. Saastraa-s as written scriptures would generally be like enactments of law. Sampradaya-s though equally binding the followers, would vary between places, regions, castes and or families. When a method is indicated by the laws and that is practiced by people for a long time, that becomes a habit of procedure, which over time becomes tradition. When you follow that path which is approved by the community traditionally, such behaviour becomes the disciplined. The one who does that is the Acharya.
7. He cannot be an Acharya all by himself. He has to have some students or at the least one Sishya, to whom he should teach the Dharma and make him live by his precepts. So, he has to be very learned and knowledgeable. then only will he be able to remove doubts and counter any arguments. The student has to have sufficiently a long period of apprenticeship to be able grasp all the teaching. Then only the teachings can go on to become a tradition! Now-a-days however, in the place of Acharya, are school / college teachers, readers and professors. There are teachers in all walks of life, wherever anybody is trained in any subject. But in their personal life and in their teaching there is no reference to morality or dharma!
8. In the olden times too, there were Acharya-s of Sciences, Arts and Crafts. For example, Krupacharyar and Dronacharyar were experts in Dhanur Vedam. Even those days they were known as Acharya-s. They were knowledgeable in Dharma Saastra Sampradaya-s and were respected not only for their expertise, but also for their impeccable moral standards of personal behaviour.
'Guru' Definition.
9. To live with Acharya and learn, is known as Guru Kula Vasam and not Acharya Kula Vasam. How is that this word Guru, so easily replaced the word Acharya? Are these two words synonyms? Adi Sankara and his protégées are called Jagat Guru Sankaracharya, they are seemingly both Guru and Acharya. Then, these two words seem to have some different connotations too. What is the direct meaning of the word 'Guru'? What is the definition of the word 'Guru'?
(We will continue with the definition of 'Guru', in the next e-mail.)


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