Wednesday, August 04, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 51 (Vol #4) Dated 04 Aug 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 51 (Vol #4) Dated 04 Aug 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 page number 286 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)

399. ‘Gatika Sthanam’ is the name of those places where they taught you Veda-s and Saastraa-s along with arts and sciences of that period. May be in later days, this name could have come to mean even places where, they taught you anything, may be with or without any allusion to the Veda Vidyas! Originally such places were mainly concerned with teaching of the Veda Saastraa-s. The shorter name in Tamil was ‘Gatikai’! Instead of being a Guru Kulam, these places had many teachers and a substantial number of students, where teaching of the Vedas with other secular subjects was conducted. I had told you earlier in my talks that there were some such schools before Buddhism came into being and that after the advent of Buddhism, there were many more such places by the name of ‘Gatika Sthanam-s’. My research led me to understand that in this general area of Kanchipuram there were many such educational institutions, which were Gatika Sthanams and you do not have to go to very far to Godavari or Gangotri, just to locate them! My next interest area was to investigate in history books, ancient personal book collections of literature, palm-leaf scriptures, royal edicts and stone carvings in temples and so on. This was my own search, based on a hunch. If Dakshasila and Nalanda were well known Universities, which came into being after Buddhism / Jainism came in to being; they could not have suddenly sprung out of a vacuum! Though there is no mention or historical records, of the existence of such Vaidic schools or colleges let alone universities, my guess was that there must have been some or even plenty of them, before Nalanda and Dakshasila!
400. That was my hunch or guess. More than that, my interest was about the evolution of the word ‘Gatikai’! ‘Gatikai’ is small pot. A big pot is called a ‘Ghatam’. ‘Gatikai’ has another meaning as a period of a ‘Naazhigai’ (of 24 minutes) in Tamil. I had to find out as to how that word was found to be suitable for an educational institution! Nobody could clarify this point. Finally after much searching and scratching of my head, I passed with flying colours in my quest. That is what I am sharing with you all now.
401. In Madras, there is an Oriental Manuscript Library. They were getting their ‘Palm Leaf’ scripts known as ‘Suvadi’, (which are really many centuries old collections of written works) printed. Recently I was reading a book of theirs titled, “Aabhogam”. To describe that book, I have to tell you about its daddy, grandfather and great grandfather books also. As these are all ‘Adwaita Saastraa-s’, it is better that you also get to know something about them. So, let me tell you!
402. Sage Vyasa has written an important document known as, ‘Brhma Sutra’. A ‘Sutram’ as I had told you earlier is a terse, brief statement like an aphorism. This Brhma Sutra contains a whole lot of such succinct statements about our understanding of the extremely subtle and difficult subject. Our AachaaryaaL has done a Bhashyam for it, containing explanations of each Sutra with comments. That Bhashyam has been further analysed and commented upon by one Sri. Vachaspathi Mishra. He has named it as ‘Bhamati’, the name of his wife! That book in turn has been commented upon by one Amalanandar, which is named as ‘Kalpa Taru’. A commentary on that ‘Kalpa Taru’ is written by one Lakshmi Nrusimha, named as ‘Aabhogam’. It is this book that I got from Oriental Manuscript Library, Madras, when it was made into a printed book from the original manuscript stage, written on palm leaf. They used to pierce holes on the palm leaf strands to form the letters, laboriously with a sharp pointed nail like letter writer. So if AacharyaaL’s Bhashyam was the first child of Brhma Sutram, what I was reading was the great-great-grand-son, or the sixth generation issue! Reading that book, I had to refer to its previous generation issue of ‘Kalpa Taru’. In it I stumbled on a reference to ‘Gatika Sthanam’!
403. In Brhma Sutram, 3rd Adhyaya, 4th Paadam, 20th Sutram, Vyasa expresses his opinion as to why there is a need for the fourth Ashrama of Sannyaasa. Jaimini of Poorva Meemaamsa is of the opinion that there is no need for a Sannyaasa. He opines that a householder could attain to ‘Moksha’ simply as he matures doing his Vaidic Karma-s and that there is no need for a Sannyaasa , in which the Vaidic Karma-s have to be given up. This idea is being refuted by Sage Vyasa, who insists that by way of maturity, one reaches the Sannyaasa, when these Vaidic Karmas are automatically given up.
404. Here in Kalpa Taru, Amalanandar has given the defining qualities or what is known as ‘Lakshana’ of a Sanyasi. He has to shave of the hair on his head and remove the ‘Yagnyopaveetam’ that is, ‘PooNool’ which indicates that he had once been given the Gayatri Mantra. Some people are of the opinion that there is no need for such. Later day Sanyasi-s of the followers of Ramanuja AachaaryaaL used to not remove the hair on the head and PooNool. Here the author of Kalpa Taru gives his views on the subject. He says in Sanskrit, “ye tu sikha yagnyopaveeta tyaaga roopa paarama hamsasya vruttim na manyante, te na pasyanti pratyaktsha gatikaa sthaaneshu patyamaana aadarvaNeem srutim – sasikam vapanam krutvaa bahis soothram tyajet buda:”. This means, “Seemingly, those who say that Sanyasi-s need not shave the head and remove the Yagnyopaveetam, possibly while doing Adhyayanam in Gatika Sthanam have not heard or failed to note the direction as given in the Atharva Veda!”
405. There is another important information revealed by this statement that, though in later days, Atharva Veda Adhyayanam had dwindled remarkably, Atharva Veda was very much part of the syllabus those days! Anyhow, it clearly reveals that as mentioned in a book of ancient vintage that had been repeatedly referred and commented upon by many scholars, the word ‘Gatika Sthanam’ is being mentioned with so much ease and felicity, to be a common word of much usage, that it was a place much respected by learned people! Later in the book ‘Kalpa Taru’ Amalanandar goes on to say that he was there in a place Devagiri when two brothers Krishnan and Mahadevan were the rulers in the Yadava Vamsa, in the middle of the 13th Century A.D. (That is some 100 to 150 years after Ramanuja AachaaryaaL’s time.) Then I searched for any other mention of ‘Gatika Sthanam’ before and after this period. This search took me to some 1,000 years before the time of Amalanandar approximately!
406. In the 4th Century A.D., a king had gone to a Gatika Sthanam to do studies with his Vidya Guru. The king was from the general area of Shimoga in Karnataka. The Gatika Sthanam was located here in Kanchipuram. For a King to have travelled many hundreds of miles in those days just for learning something the standard of education should have been high enough and its name and fame must have been spread far and wide. The fact that he was accompanied by his own Guru, we can visualise that the standard of teaching must have been really high and far advanced. The king’s name was Mayura Varma and his Guru’s name was Veera Sarma. Verma is a Kshatriya and Sarma a Brahmin.
407. From time immemorial, even when there were no railroads or high ways, people in our country have gone thousands of miles away just for education. People have gone from the South to Kaasi and Pataliputram. When Patanjali conducted classes in Chidambaram, students have come from so far away as the Gowda Desa of Bengal. He was known as Gowdapaada. His disciple’s disciple was our own Adi Sankara AachaaryaaL! When AachaaryaL taught Vedantam in Kaasi, one Sanandana had gone from Sozha Desa to Kaasi to be his student. He is the one who got the name of Padma Paada. One day when AachaaryaaL called for him, he happened to be on the other side of the river. He simply started responding to the Guru’s call and started walking uncaring and even unaware of there being a river in between. There was a lotus flower springing up for each one of the steps he took, that he had arrived this side of the river, without realizing that he had walked across the river! Well, that is a different story altogether!
(To be continued.)



Post a Comment

<< Home