Friday, July 30, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 48 (Vol #4) Dated 29 July 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 48 (Vol #4) Dated 29 July 2010.

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by Periyaval of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are proceeding from the last para on page number 270 of Vol 4 of the Tamil original. The readers are reminded that herein 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too, mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated constantly)

375. I was talking about the contribution of Buddhist and Jain scholars in Tamil classic literature. The five classic works known as ‘Aimperum Kappiyam’ are theirs only. The most proudly quoted Magnum Opus of Ilango; a SamaNa Ascetic is ‘Silappadigaram’. ‘MaNimekalai’ was written by Seethalai Saathanaar, a Buddhist Bikku. ‘Kundalakesi’ is a Buddhist contribution. ‘Jeevaka ChintamaNi’ is by Thiruthakka Devar, a SamaNa. ‘Kalingathu BaraNi’ is by Jayam Kondaar, a SamaNa. ‘Nannool’ a book on grammer, ‘Yapparunkala Kaarikai’ is a defining work on poetical meters and grammer, ‘Aranerichchaaram’ is a book on rules of Renunciation, ‘Naaladiyaar’ a book on morals; are all by SamaNa authors! ‘Veera Sozhiyam’ a book on grammer is by a Buddhist scholar.
376. In the North the Buddhist Universities have been popular and famous enough to get international recognition. They have been huge with many faculties, very well defined syllabuses and run systematically! Many visitors from other countries, especially China were for studying in such educational institutions. Amongst them Hieun Tsang was not only a visitor but also was part of the faculty for long, as I read recently.
377. I also read about the reason why these Buddhist Universities grew beyond anyone’s imagination! Brahmins used to give much importance to the memory power. While performing the ‘Samitaa Daanam’, one of their prayers addressed to the fire, sun and the power behind all that says, “mayi medaam”. When the memory power is nurtured thus, anything seen or heard even once gets registered in the mind as though etched! Clean living, uncorrupted mind, a simple life that does not fritter away ones attention by running after elusive desires, doing daily and periodical Karma Anushtaanaa-s that automatically involves delaying and starving the body of its normal tendencies for instant gratification, chanting of the Gayatri and Veda Mantras, doing Yogasanas like Praana Yaama, Surya Namaskara and most importantly, maintaining strict celibacy during life as a student; are such habits that cumulatively instil brilliance, enhances IQ and memory power! These things are essential qualities required in instructional ability! Adhyaapanam, that is teaching is one of the six duties of a Brahmin. Many people from other walks of life would come to him for consultancy. On those occasions, he cannot be searching the books for reference. There were no reference books anyhow, those days!
377. So all the references have to be in his memory. He has to keep his wits so fine tuned and polished. For this he had to sacrifice much as a policy. The vast Vedas themselves were known as ‘ezhudaak KiLavi’ as the ‘unwritten scripture’! Instead of committing it to memory, if you are having books, the tendency will be to feel as to, “Why should we take the pains of memorizing it, since after all, we can always refer to the books!” Not only that we will be reluctant to commit it to memory, the attention given will also be less, in trying to grasp the inner meaning and purport! This we see practically on so many occasions! Our ancestors used to say and feel that once given in writing, you can forget it. Actually there used to be a dictum which goes, “sahasram vada –ekam maa likha:” . This means ‘tell a thousand things but, do not write even one!’
378. This is so contrary to the tendency these days, at least in bureaucratic circles ‘to hand over a memo’ at the slightest opportunity! I am told that to read out of written down notes and scriptures was first started by the Buddhists. I am also quoting from an article that I have read recently, researching the historical evidence of the likely dates of these things! (See the first sentence of the last para too.) As per the researcher’s opinion, some time before the invasion by Alexander, that is in the 6th Century B.C. our Saastraas were put in to brief, succinct forms known as ‘Sutras’, such as ‘Brhma Sutra, Yoga Sutra, VyakaraNa Sutra and so on’. In PaaNini’s VyakaraNa Sutra, there are words such as, ‘lipikara’ meaning writer and ‘grantam’ meaning a book!
379. But it is true that writing was kept to the minimum. Kings when they sent a letter or an invitation or declaration of war, possibly sent it in writing. All other Saastraa-s and literary works were spread by word of mouth and memorised. When it came to the Vedas, the Samhita-s, Brahmana-s and Aranyaka-s were never written. There is just no mention of barks or skins or leaves or ink or any other writing material. In the Brahmi Lipi, the first writings that we see are those edicts known as Royal Saasana-s of Emperor Asoka etched or inscribed on stones around 3rd Century B.C.! These are all connected to the Buddhism. In Ramayana and Maha Bharatha, there is mention of Rama and Pandava doing Vidya Abhyaasam, but there is no mention of their writing anything! In Buddha’s life history known as, ‘Lalita Vistaram’, there is mention of his learning to write! The very name for Vedas is ‘Sruti and Smruti’ meaning, ‘what is heard and remembered’! Thus these very names seem to emphasise the point that it is not to be made ‘cheap’ by being written. Even when writing came into existence, the one who has to write it to memorise (likita patak) was considered ‘pataka adhaman’, the worst amongst the students! Contrary to such beliefs, the first to record the Saastraa-s in writing were the Buddhists, says that author whom I have been quoting all along.
380. There is reason for this. Kshatriya’s dharma is to fight wars, do policing, hold governmental offices and manage such duties. Vysya is to do trades, commerce, manufacture, produce agricultural goods from land and take care of cattle, (that is ‘Go SamrakshaNam’)! People from the fourth caste are meant to work as the labour force on service jobs. If you put these people in the schools in childhood and tell them, “Sharpen your brain power, try and commit things to memory without writing and so on”, what is the use? Instead of being useful, such effort may prove to be counterproductive. Instead the Kshatriya could be trained in physical fitness, archery, horse and chariot riding and such activities. The Vysya could gain useful apprentice training on the shop floor or the field or barn than learning in the school. Similarly, whether it is agricultural labour or construction, carpentry or sculpture, shoe making or any other crafts, the children of the fourth caste too is best trained on the job! The way a Kshatriya boy can wield a sword, a Brahmin boy can never do. The ease with which a Vysya boy can assess the quality of perishable goods, other children can never. Whether it is cutting or slicing, joining pieces or polishing the surface, the carpenter’s son will have an edge over other children, when it comes to handling wood. What I am saying is that, here too there is some capability that gets conveyed through to the next generation! This is equally true of the ease and ability with which a child from the fourth caste can handle physical labour and hard work!
381. Till the time of Buddhists, all learning was learning the Vedas. So it was known as the ‘Heard’ Sruti, Ears being the inputting devices and recorded in the memory. Buddhists made the change that, all learning became ‘reading the written’ with the Eyes as the inputting devices, without much emphasis on the need to commit it to memory, as one can always refer to the books! What this research scholar says stands to reason that, it was from the Buddhists time that, instead of hearing and memorizing, learning the Vidyas became a process of reading the written! Till Brahmins were the only ones doing the ‘Vidya Abhyaasam’, hearing and memorizing was sufficient. When Buddhists established these universities, as people from all the castes joined them, it became necessary that, the process of learning, instead of being ‘hearing and memorizing’ became ‘reading the written’! As they say, “need is the mother of invention”!
(To be continued.)



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