Wednesday, September 15, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 72 (Vol #4) Dated 15 Sep 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 72 (Vol #4) Dated 15 Sep 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 391 of Vol 4 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that here in 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated constantly)

1. The title means that it is about a method of electing the civic body in a place known as Uttara Merur, which makes it clear that in Vedas too there is evidence of rule by the masses, as in a democracy. It is generally the opinion of all that in olden times when the country was ruled by the kings, the common man had no say in governance. When we think of a King, we think of not only him as an individual but some from his team of ministers and some family members as the few persons who mattered in all decision making, administered and executed by some officers of the King, as the aristocracy.
2. As the British writers and teachers of Indian History have moulded us to think, we have another thought coming immediately that, these Kings were all of the time so much controlled by the Brahmin community, who were grinding their own axes that these Brahmins were dominating the society to their exclusive advantage! So the trend was to make us think that it is the westerners who have taught us as to how to make democracy a functional thing in this country, as though we were uncivilized brutes before their coming to our lands!
3. In reality from the time of the Vedas our method of governing had the wherewithal to enable everybody’s point of view to be expressed and taken into consideration before any decision is arrived at on any issue! In Veda itself there are three words, talking of three different arrangements. They are ‘Sabha’, ‘Samiti’ and ‘Vidhata’; meaning an assembly, committee and controller respectively. In them knowledgeable people got together, discussed, consulted each other and exchanged views; thus enabling arriving at a consensus for decisions. The King was bound by those decisions to a large extent normally. Nowhere is it indicated that such assembly was purely made up of Brahmins or Brahmins and Kshatriyas only. They were evidently made up of all castes and communities.
4. Rudram is chanted regularly in the temples whenever the Gods are ceremonially bathed and anointed with water, honey, oil, Vibhuti (i.e., ashes), chandan (i.e., sandalwood paste), kumkum (red powder of vermillion and turmeric), milk, curd and so on. In that Rudram a part of it contains repeated utterings of ‘namo namaha’ thereby to mean, repeated prostrations to God in so many forms (as mentioned in Yajur Veda Taitreeya Samhita). In it we pay our obeisance to God in all static and inert forms to mobile and animate forms, since the indwelling spirit in all forms of existence is God as per our belief. There we say, “prostrations to Him in the form of all assemblies and heads of assemblies!” We are mentioning Sabhas as the People’s Assembly and the Sabhapathy as the Chairman of such Assemblies and doing prostrations to Him, God Rudra in that form!
5. Nowadays we talk of many Sabhas, amongst which the Sangeetha Sabha seems to be most important. If somebody says that he is going to the Sabha, we presume that he is going to the music concert. But, in Vedic times the word Sabha had the meaning mainly of a People’s Assembly for civic governance. It is this word Sabha that became ‘Avai’ in Tamil. When people assemble to do good for the public, such a Sabha so formed is considered ‘Easwara Roopa’ i.e., a form of God and so is respected. Hence prostrations to it are announced as part of Sri Rudram!
6. Parameswara in the form of a Statue, a Vigraha Roopa is in Chidambaram and there, his Sanctum Sanctorum is known as the Sabha. As the Golden Assembly, it is called Kanaka Sabha. That Omniscient Omnipotent Power itself dancing, making the whole universe of animate and inanimate worlds dance around itself; has four more Sabhas. One is the Rajata Sabha of silver in Madurai; Ratna Sabha of gems is in Thiruvaalankaadu; Taamra Sabha of copper is in Thirunelveli; Chitra Sabha of only drawings sans any statues is in Thirukkurtraalam, making the total of five. He presides over these Sabhas, not as a speaker but, as the dancer!
7. Him we call the Nataraja, the King of Dance! The 3,000 Dikchidars of Chidambaram refer to the temple as the ‘Sabha Naayakar Koil’. He is not only the Sabha Naayakar or Sabha Pathy but, also the very assembly of people! It is to drive home this idea into our heads that it is said in Sri Rudram, “Prostrations to Him as the Head of the Assembly and the very Assembly”. ‘Will of the people is the will of God’, is not a new concept to us Indians, but what is already soaked and marinated in every iota of our very being!
8. People who deliberate on governmental affairs should have well rounded knowledge; be persons of good character; be capable of logical consideration and impartial analysis of the problem at hand and the power of expression. These very qualities are prayed for in the Vedas. We know that the Rishis of yore were brilliant brains of excellent character qualities! Some of them were so socially inclined as to wish to have the power of expression to be able to put across their view points in such assemblies effectively.
9. This prayer Sthuti known famously as ‘Rudram’, talking about Sabha and Sabhapathy, occurs in Sukhla Yajur Veda. In Rik Veda too, five Suktas addressed at Easwara collectively are known as, ‘Pancharudram’. In it too there is such a prayer where a person who has these three distinct qualities of brains, character and expression is called a ‘Sabheyan’ as a person worthy of being a member of such a Sabha! It is not enough to be a King by birth; these three qualities are essential for someone to be a ‘Sabheyan’! (Rik Veda, 2.33.15.)
10. Those who have been entrusted with the task of analysing people’s welfare, considering all the pros and cons and take decisions; should be functioning co-operatively keeping the collective responsibility in view. Such an advice being given to the members of such an assembly is to be found in the closing portion of the Rik Veda. (Rik Veda, 10th Mandalam, 191st Suktam.) Learned people who have read this have felt that this, as one of the earliest original documents of human kind, deserves to be revered as the Motto of the United Nations Organization’s charter! It says, “Unite, meet and have open discussions. World’s welfare and common man’s benefit as the one mission before you all may unite you all! Let your hearts and minds become one on this. May you find the way for universal happiness through unity of thoughts and minds!” This is the message of the Suktam!
11. The country’s administration was done by true representation of all castes in such Sabhas. To say that the word of the Brahmin by his whims and fancies was the law of the land is totally false. Like the Purohit, GramaNi and Senaani were all equally valuable. GramaNi was evidently the civil representative and the Senaani was the Police / Military man. This also means that at least two thirds of the assembly were non-brahmins. This must have been so, right from the beginning. This word GraamaNi must have been the fore runner for the later day ‘Grama MaNiyam or MaNiya Kaarar’! Similarly when we look at the mantras for the King’s Pattabhishekam, that is coronation, there is clear mention of the acceptance from each and every major social division of castes or communities, of that person as their King. So at least in India, they had already arrived at balancing between Monarchy and Democracy, which went hand in hand from very old times. The ChoLa Raja driving his chariot on his son, as a punishment for his son’s having driven his chariot over a calf rashly and negligently, based on a complaint from the grieved cow ringing the bell of justice; the kings dealings and discussions with the hawk chasing a dove, when the latter took asylum under King Sibi Chakravarty; were all not simply stories only!
(To be continued.)



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