Friday, November 22, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 68 (Vol # 7) Dated 22 Nov 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 68 (Vol # 7) Dated 22 Nov 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 530 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)

Kanchi Sri Matam & Tamil Grand Parents
ஐயர்களில் ஓர் உ.வே
1.             Amongst Sri VaishNavas it has been a tradition to add two initials as 'U' and 'V' to indicate 'Ubaya Vedanta' – 'उबय वेदान्त', meaning that they are doubly qualified in Vedas in Sanskrit as well as Tamil.  In the Sri Ramanuja Sampradaya as ancient Rishis have given us the Vedas and Sãstrãs, these 12 Ãzhvãrs have given us 4,000 poems known as ' Nãlãyira Divya Prabandam'  – 'நாலாயிர திவ்ய பிரபந்தம்', which are considered to be of equal status and value as the Vedas.   The elders of that tradition are required to be well versed in both Sanskrit Vedas and Tamil verses of this Nãlãyira Divya Prabandam.  The two initials 'U' and 'V' were indicative of their expertise in both Tamil and Sanskrit Vedas as the word 'Ubaya' means 'in both'.  So this 'U' and 'V' was as an abbreviation or acrostic / acronym.          

2.            There was one U.V.Swaminatha Iyer.  Being an Iyer he was a Smãrthã, follower of Sankara that is, our ÃchãryãL and so he could not have been entitled to these two initials as given to elders of the VaishNava sect.  His initials were due to the fact that he was from a place known as 'Uttama-Dana-Puram' and his father was one Venkatasubba Iyer.  This Swaminatha Iyer was virtually a devotee of the Tamil language that his talk, research and even his very breath was all the time about this one subject of Tamil Language. So having devoted his entire life and time for this one subject of Tamil Classic Literature known as Ilakkiyam, we could presume or expect that he would have read Nãlãyira Divya Prabandam also, but not the way the VaishNavas meant by that acronym.  When it comes to God and Bhakti, he was very much a devotee of Siva.

The Two Who Really Very Actively Did Life-Long Service
3.            I wished that he should really deservedly become 'Ubaya Vedãnta'.  By saying this, I do not mean that he should be made to learn the Vedas by Adhyayanam and chant the Ãzhvãr Pasurams.  I only wished that he should become sufficiently an expert in the Tamil traditions of devotional literature and related to that become an authority in the nationwide Sanskrit literature especially in connection with religious Ãchãrã Anushtãnãs.  I have this desire about all Tamil Scholars, not only for U.V.Swaminatha Iyer only.  For U.V.Swaminatha Iyer, who already was exceptionally qualified in the world of classic Tamil Literature, instead of just having Bhakti peripherally, I wished that he should have deep belief and conviction in the Sanãtana-Sampradaya system and have devotion to our ÃchãryãL who revived and rejuvenated the system, as that would so motivate others in the world of poets and writers of Tamil Literature. As the Tamil world followed the foot-steps of 'Tamil Patti' in ancient times, in this century should line up behind this man who was well known as 'Tamil Thatha'.  (I hope that you are aware that it is a custom in Tamil to address an old woman as 'Patti' meaning 'Grand Mother' and similarly old men are respectfully addressed as 'Thatha' meaning 'Grand Father'!)

4.            Karaikkal Ammaiyar was glorified by Siva Perumãn himself when he addressed her as 'Amma'.  Similarly this Avvaiyar Patti was glorified when Siva's younger son SubrahmaNya addressed her as 'Patti' and asked her if she wants the fruits heated or cold?  Though Avvaiyar was an Avatara of Saraswathi, the Goddess of Learning, at least temporarily she was made to look a bit foolish, wondering as to how the fruits falling from the tree being shaken can be hot or cold.  But when the fruits fall from the tree being shaken, as you know only the ripe ones will fall off the tree.  So, the old woman had to brush off the sand particles sticking to the ripe fruits by blowing air from her mouth.  Now this child seemingly innocently asks the Patti, "They are hot isn't it?  That is why you have to blow air at it!"  Patti sees the point and feels slightly abashed.  Thus Muruga could drive home a sense of humbleness in Patti who might have thought of herself to be 'all-knowing' otherwise!

5.            What GaNesha the elder of the two sons of Siva did was, to lift this Patti in all her humility by his Thumbikkai and reach her all the way to Kailãsa in a jiffy.  Normally we may come across a grandson taking the granny's hands and guiding her to climb a bus or train and guide and usher her from one place to another.  Here this PiLLaiyar child has just lifted this Avvaiyar Patti from this world and fetched her to the very heavens in one go!  To catch hold of the hands of Thatha or Patti and guide them happens a little later in life.  When the baby is still smaller the grandchild learns its first few steps as to how to walk as the old persons speed with a walking stick will suit the speed of the baby trying to learn to walk.  But if the ancient world of Tamil followed that Avvaiyar Patti then and this U.V.Swaminatha Iyer Thatha now, nobody can match the speed that they demonstrated, so actively and dynamically, never being static or taking rest in their entire life of service to the humanity!

'Ãththichchoodi' – 'ஆத்திச்சூடி'
6.            Avvaiyar wrote a number of poems addressing the children putting across high philosophy in acceptably simple language that will reach the young minds.  She knew that children were the seedlings of future generations of citizens.  If they have the right sense and the correct attitude towards life and others, morality and good behaviour will automatically be ensured.  So she taught the Veda Dharma and Manu Dharma in very simple words.  Vedas as Prabhu Samhita can generate commands such as, 'Satyam Vada' and 'Dharmam Chara'. She humbly wondered if she as an old woman can issue such orders or commands.  So, instead of saying, "You have to obey whether you like it or not", she put it in acceptably pleading tone, "Why don't you love to be well behaved and do the right thing?" she says, 'aram seya virumbu' – 'அறம் செய விரும்பு'.

7.            This book of 109 aphorisms is known as 'Ãththichchoodi', it is one of the names for Easwara.  Before teaching anything the first lesson to be taught is an expression of subservience and gratitude to God, isn't it?  To think of divinity should be the first thought and that is our Indian and Tamil culture.  Even if the story is about a love affair or a comedy, to pray to God expressing our obeisance is always the first page or song called the 'Mangala Sloka' or 'KadavuL Vãzhthu' – 'கடவுள் வாழ்த்து', that was known as 'Nãndi' – 'नान्दी' in Sanskrit.  There is no book in Tamil without a prayer to God.  So, in this first book like a Primary Reader, Avvaiyar is referring to Parameswara as wearing the 'Aãthi' flower.  'Aãthi' is the flower that Siva is 'Choodi' meaning wearing on his head.  Let me quote the full sloka of two lines: -
ஆத்திச்சூடி அமர்ந்த தேவனை
Aththichchoodi amarnda devanai
ஏத்தி ஏத்தி தொழுவோம் யாமே.
Eththi eththi tozhuvom yaame.

8.            Siva is described to be carrying many things on his head, for example the crescent moon, Ganges River, Snake, a garland of skull bones, Konrai and Aãthi flowers.  Amongst all this, the Crescent Moon is rather special, as it is very beautiful and indicates his kind-heartedness.  Isn't it a very pithy statement when someone is too fond of something to say, "He keeps him on top of his head and dances around"!  Having been sinful when the Moon is just wasting away, then regretting the same falls in the feet of Parameswara intending to expiate, Siva in fact has lifted the Moon high above his head, and danced in celebration.  It is that posture called and known as 'Chandra Mouleeswara', the Swami venerated in this Kanchi Kãmakoti Matam. 

9.            This name 'Ãththichchoodi' reminds us of Chandra Mouleeswara and you ask me how.  This flower of 'Ãththi' in shape is like a sliver of crescent moon only.  In colour also it is a pale yellow instead of being golden, closer to the hue of the crescent moon.  The original name anyhow seems to have had something to do with the ubiquitous Agasthya Muni, who has a penchant for turning up in the most unexpected of places.  This green leafed vegetable known as 'Agaththi Keerai', which is a favourite of the Cow, may be was first identified as a very useful herb by Agasthya Muni.  Though Easwara had thousands of other names, may be that Avvaiyar selected this particular name of his as 'wearing the Ãththi' to remind the children that it was this Agasthya Muni who got the eternal nectar of Tamil language from Siva.  As the name also reminds us of Chandra Mouleeswara, the Presiding Deity of this Matam, it is a matter of additional satisfaction and pride to me also!

Tamil Vidwãn-s and Sri Matam
10.          I get some personal satisfaction by creating a connection with this Matam for whosoever is a great Tamil Scholar.  Because the general impression about this Matam in the outside world is that with us only Sanskrit has all the importance.  They feel sad that unlike the VaishNavas who give equal importance to Tamil and Sanskrit, in this Smãrthãs Matam, they do not contribute for the principle of Ubaya Vedanta!  There is a historical reason for this.  Ãdi Sankara Bhagawat PãdãL carried out all his actions on an 'All India Basis' only that he had to be understood and ensure acceptance on that basis.  Like in Kanchipuram and Sringeri in the South, he had established Matams in the West, North and East in Dwaraka, Badrinath and Puri Jagannatha, respectively.  So language wise he had to make use of a language of All-India acceptance and orientation.  So, all Sankara Matams have had a greater connection to the Sanskrit Language from the beginning.  But at the same time, our Matam at Kanchipuram has always been showing keenness in developing its Tamil connections.  Tamil Scholars have always been honoured by the Matam.  Sri U.V.Swaminatha Iyer himself has confirmed that before the start of the 20th Century, he has been to our Matam some 20 to 25 years before that and that the Pundits in the Matam have appreciated his speeches then and that ILayathankudi PeriyavãL who was the head of the Matam at that time, had given him blessings.

11.          People have started differentiating widely between Tamil and Sanskrit only recently from the start of the 20th Century.  I have been sincerely wishing to change this status-quo and bring everyone under a total equal care of Chandra MouLeeswara's Grace that in his presence we should all join hands as his beloved children.  So like the Sanskrit Pundits I started honouring Tamil Vidwãn-s also on a regular basis.  That is how I pulled U.V.Swaminatha Iyer to come to the Matam and through him – 'तत्-द्वारा' – I wished to help the Tamil-world to develop a sense of acceptance and affinity to Vedic Karmas, Ãchãrãs and Traditions.

(To be continued.)



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