Monday, August 19, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 27 (Vol # 7) Dated 18 Aug 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 27 (Vol # 7) Dated 18 Aug 2013

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL of Kanchi Kaamakoti 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 going ahead from page No 186 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated continually)

260.            Amongst the many names for the Guru, 'Purohit' is yet to be taken note of.  In Sanskrit there are many combined forms of letters in which individual letters are joined in writing as well as in pronunciation.  In other languages for example in English, they are written separately and may be pronounced jointly while in Tamil they are written and pronounced separately. They are known as 'samyukta akshara' – 'संयुक्त अक्षर' in Sanskrit which has abundant such combinations of letters and words.  For example this very word 'samyukta akshara' itself contains 'sam + yukta + akshara', which could be one word as 'samyuktakshara', while containing 'yukta and akshara' as words made of combined letters, in which 'kta' – 'क्त' and 'ksha' – 'क्ष' are examples of letters formed by a combination of  half letters!

261.            In Tamil the vowels are known as 'uyir' – 'உயிர்' and consonants are known as 'mei' – 'மெய்' letters or 'ezhuththugaL' – 'எழுத்துகள்'.  So, in Tamil letters with a dot on them like 'க்' and 'ச்' will occur only with another with a 'uyir ezhuththu' combination such as, 'க்' with 'கி' and 'ச்' with '', like, 'பச்சை', 'மைத்துனன்' and 'அப்பா & அம்மா'.  This above point will become clear when I give you some examples.  For example 'शुक्ल' and 'प्रोक्षणं' in Sanskrit will become 'சுக்கில' and 'புரோக்ஷணம்', respectively in Tamil.  Those who do not approve of letters such as '', '' and 'க்ஷ' as not real Tamil letters, will rather write 'புரோக்கணம்' for 'புரோக்ஷணம்'!  So you have words such as, 'கிருட்டினன்' for 'कृष्ण' and 'புரோகிதர்' for 'पुरोहित'.  I started talking about how it is written and pronounced in Tamil / English / Sanskrit because often people make a mistake about writing and pronouncing this word 'Purohit', as they say in Tamil as 'ப்ரோஹித்', which is wrong instead of 'புரோஹித்', which is acceptable. In fact the actual meaning of this word is that he 'firstly says or does what is good for us'.  Like the 'Purã' in 'PurãNam', here too it means 'firstly'.  Firstly he tells us what is good for us, that is, what is 'hitam' – 'हितं' for our benefit.  Generally what we find is that, what is good for us is never liked and what is not good for us seems attractive.  That is why the Vedas differentiate between what is good intrinsically and what is appealing to the minds as 'sreyas' – 'श्रेयस' and 'preyas' – 'प्रेयस', respectively. The one who does and says what is good for us in an acceptable manner is a Purohit, which is yet another name for the Guru!

262.            We get an eruption or goose-pimple in our body somewhere, that looks as big as a small lemon, is paining and seems to be ready to burst with a lot of blood and pus, let us say.  When someone gives us hot fermentation, the pain seems lessened and we say 'nice' or 'Aha! idamma irukku' – 'ஆஹா, இதம்மா இருக்கு'!  That 'இதம்' is the same as 'hitam' – 'हितं' in Sanskrit.  The sins that we commit are like such boils and eruptions (known as 'katti' – 'கட்டி' in Tamil,) that ties us up repeatedly.  As an anti-dote for the sins we have to do as much of 'PuNya' as possible which is like hot-pack applied to the 'கட்டி'.  Normally such 'PuNya' is mostly like unpalatable medicines.  But it is the Guru who makes it acceptably 'हितं', as the Purohit.

263.            Truth is always hard to accept.  Manu says, 'satyam brooyãt, priyam brooyãt' – 'सत्यं ब्रूयात, प्रियं ब्रूयात', meaning, 'Tell the truth, tell it lovingly'!  Similarly ThiruvaLLuvar also says, 'vãimai enappaduvadu yãdenin yãdonrum theemai ilãda solal' – 'வாய்மை எனப்படுவது யாதெனின் யாதொன்றும் தீமை இலாத சொலல்', meaning 'If you ask as to what is effective speech, it is that which has no evil in it'!  This, 'தீமை இலாத சொலல்' is what is speaking 'हितं'.  There is a book known as 'Hitopadesam'.  It has a number of stories through which high principles of morality and truthful behaviour is brought home, for the children to understand.  Normally Upadesam is not liked by anybody as people dislike being advised.  But as stories of moral justice with birds and animals as the main characters was written by one Vishnu Sharma, who named the book as 'Pancha Tantra Stories', on five important topics, in the early centuries of the Christian calendar.  Based on that one Narayana from Bengal wrote a book known as 'Hitopadesa' in Sanskrit some 800 years back.  This used to be part of the school syllabus in Sanskrit, as well as the translated version, in other languages, at the middle classes level, till some 50 years back.

Internment of Cultural Values in Independent India
264.            During the Britishers time they did their level best to intern, dissipate and erase Indian cultural value systems alright.  But even for them their conscience did not permit total erasure of our cultural value systems.  Amongst westerners also there were many thinkers and past masters who were in awe of our culture coming down from the ages and eons, such as people like Annie Besant, Arthur Avalon, Bertrand Russell, Somerset Maugham, Schopenhauer and Paul Brunton; to name only a few.  But, after the so called Independence, in the present day India when National Culture is supposed to be enlarged, progressed and refined; what is happening is that, the differences between people of different areas are being blown out of proportions and Indians are getting alienated from each other.  Parochialism and crude selfishness is being given full play in the garb vote bank politics.  Then secularism has become a convenient tool in the hands of the politician.  Any talk of Hinduism and Hindu culture is anathema in the present day India.  As the Hindus though the majority, are divided in to so many sectarian blocks of nebulous identification and loyalty; people of other religious leanings can get away with blue murder, in the functioning of secularism!  In the bargain, we are more than successful in giving a deep burial to our own cultural values; that our children are denied the understanding of basic value systems!  Coupled with that is the urge to copy the west in speech, thoughts, dress and all walks of life, that has become a compelling force!  Instead of a national culture, as part of the regional culture, we are more than successful than the British in smothering and choking the breath out of Sanskrit in this Tamil Nadu.  What I came to say was that, 'Hitopadesa' is advice that is useful, effective and acceptably pleasantly 'sreyas' and 'preyas' too; but ended up saying that it has simply become the victim of 'Hit and Run' as 'Hit + Upadesa'!

Vidya Guru and Deeksha Guru
265.            What is good for one's future is, taught in advance by the Desika, who shows the way, and he is also the Purohit.  For a young boy who joins the Guru Kulam immediately after Upanayanam as a Brhmachari, the Guru does not stop at what should be his behaviour in the Brhmacharya Ashram but also teaches the required character qualities in Gruhastam such as honesty, industriousness, hospitality, humaneness in addition to all the Vidya of arts, crafts and sciences and Veda Adhyayanam, while ensuring that each boy conducts his Nitya Karma Anushtãnãs.  He is known as the Vidya Guru.  In Ãtma Vidya, he may not teach methods of Yoga and Meditation.  To the extent possible, he will be teaching the basics so that the child develops an attitude that one day he has to go on to that important area of study.  To practically do the preparatory actions for Ãtma Vidya, it is necessary to have developed sufficient amount of dispassion that comes with age and experience.  Thus, he will prepare the boy to become a responsible citizen, from the first Ashram to the second one that is, Gruhasta Ashram to function as a house holder.

266.            Then this boy develops sufficient dispassion from his involvement in worldly affairs, goes on to a retired life known as Vana Prastam, the third Ashram, before meeting one day the Deeksha Guru who will initiate him into Sannyãsa, the life of a mendicant monk.  Before that, the Guru who initiates him in to intense Tapasya of Japa, Pooja, Homa or PãrãyaNa; by giving Mantra Deeksha, could be many and they are also referred as Deeksha Guru only.  That is how they are referred to as a custom and tradition though classically the one Guru who gives the 'Maha Vãkya' Upadesa is the one giving Sannyãsa Deeksha and known as Deeksha Guru.  Whatever it is, the Guru as Purohita saves the Sishya from going astray, by safe guarding and preventing him from harm, evil and sin!  It may sound that he may be using threats and punishments.  But that is not the way.  Like the Doctor who administers suitable medicines and palliatives for the existing diseases and gives inoculations and preventives for the potential threats, Guru as Purohita does the needful for the present and future, for the disciple!

The Serious Responsibility of a Guru
267.            There is a statement in the Sãstrãs clearly delineating the responsibilities of a King and a Guru.  It goes something like this:-
"rajãnãm rãshtrajam pãpam, raja pãpam purohitam
"राजानं राष्ट्र्जं पापं, राज पापं पुरोहितं |
bharthãram stree krutam pãpam, sishya pãpam gurum vrajet"
भर्तारं स्त्री कृतं पापं, सिष्य पापं गुरुम्व्रजेत ||"  That means, "The sins of the people being ruled go to the King, his own sins are held against his preceptor, a wife's sins are accounted against the husband and the disciple's sins are marked against the Guru".  Though it looks rather awkward, there is evident justice there!  The King's duty it is to govern by educating them about their rights and duties and punishing them when required.  Despite that if they misbehave, the effect has to go to the King.  Similarly the Raja Guru is entrusted with the responsibility for the King's behaviour; husband is entrusted with the responsibility of the wife's and Guru with that of the Sishya.  The credit does go to the person in the responsible position and so should the debit accrue there!  So, the point is emphasised that they have to demonstrate excellent model attitude and behaviour themselves, to be able to acquit themselves creditably in the performance of their duties.

Guru and Purohit
268.            I quoted the above sloka, to emphasise the point about the seriousness of their responsibilities.  However, it may give rise to a doubt about the inter-se status and responsibilities of a Guru and Purohit, especially in the light of the statement, 'राज पापं पुरोहितं and सिष्य पापं गुरुम्व्रजेत'.  Let me clarify.  Not only here in this sloka but mostly the one referred as the Guru is the one who conducted and managed a Guru Kulam, where students used to go and study like in hostels these days.  In the earlier days these Guru Kulam-s were mostly located in forests.  In later times, the Gurus did not continue to stay in forests and conduct Guru Kulam-s, evidently as a matter of convenience, with obvious advancement in civilizations with concurrent ease of living.  But the point I am making is that, the one who gave the Sishya, Adhyayanam in Guru Kulam is the Vidya Guru.

269.            Then after 12 years or more in the Guru Kulam, the student came back to this worldly life from the environs of the Guru Kulam, got married and lived the life of a house holder.  Now other than daily Nitya Karma Anushtãnãs, there are a number of functions and Karma-s to be done on special occasions, from birth till one's death and periodical ceremonies and festivals spread throughout the year.  To supervise the conduct of such functions and assist we need a qualified religious teacher, isn't it?  That job is done by the Purohit, who may take care of a set of a number of families.  He is paid DakshiNa for his services, which is his bread earning income.  Even the Kings used to go to Guru Kulam and study under a Vidya Guru like any other student.  But as reigning King in his own kingdom, he would keep a Purohit for his personal life in the royal household, as well as for his official duties.  This is the Raja Guru to whom the sins of the King accrue while the King stands to absorb the sins of the citizens!
(To be continued.)




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