DEIVATHIN KURAL # 123
(Vol # 7) Dated 24 Mar 2014
(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 the last paragraph on page No 940
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
http://Advaitham.blogspot.com updated continually)
Procedure for Sãshtãnga Namaskãra. While
doing Namaskãra lay your body down on the ground with legs close together so
that your forehead, chest, stomach, knees and the front portion of your feet
are all flat on the ground. Hands should
be brought forward so that they are both parallel and stretched forward with
the palms touching the ground. Then the
hands are brought back while describing an arc on either side and made to rest with
the palms facing inwards, touching the thighs on either side. Now is the matter of the ears. This man who is lying on the ground like a
log of wood with his hands and legs in a straight line, is to move only the
face to the right and left so that his ears may alternately touch the ground
first to the right and then to the left.
Then he has to extend both the hands in a reverse arc above the head
bringing the palms in contact with each other, hands held straight with the
thumbs up, in an Anjali posture. With
that, the act of Namaskãra is completed.
73. Thus the act of Namaskãra, starting
from and ending in the standing erect posture, combines in itself many individual
movements variously bending and stretching the body parts, proves to be an
excellent exercise. This has proved to be
a good physical exercise, also good for the mind and the inner being creating
good vibrations in the nerves, and has become popular as 'Surya Namaskãra' as
part of Yoga exercises. I have described
it enough but it will be clearly understood only if demonstrated
physically. But what to do, I do not
have the luck to demonstrate the same and to test if someone in the audience is
capable of doing so, is not good manners.
(PeriyavãL says so smilingly.) To
do it is quite easy, but to explain it in words becomes a huge narrative like
an epic! If you have the correct
intention, it can be done quite easily, once you have noted the details. One alternate opinion about this is also
74. However sincere you may be, in big
crowds we may not be able to do all this, extending and folding our hands and
legs in all directions, isn't it? On
such occasions it is not very wrong, if we consider laying our body down on the
ground with the two hands, two palms, two legs and torso, to constitute this
act of Sãshtãnga Namaskãra. I am
wondering if I have added too many details in the simple act of, totally nullifying
ourselves as having nothing of me or mine, falling in absolute surrender! After all in the act of Namaskãra there is
also the intention of asking for pardon for our sins, isn't it? So, even if there are some mistakes in the
explanation of details I am sure, Bhagawan will excuse me.
Panchãnga Namaskãram: Greatness of Motherhood
75. You know already that women do not do
Namaskãra like this. The way they do it
is known as Panchãnga Namaskãra. Do not
mistake it to mean 'Panchãngam' which is an astrologer's calendar, in which he
sees and identifies, the Titi (that is the day after a new or full moon), Vãram
(that is the day of the week), Star ascendant on that day in the skies, Yogam,
KaraNam and auspicious and inauspicious periods of the day for scheduling
events and rituals. Here we are talking
about the five body parts.
76. Our ancient Rishis who decided the
rules and regulations of the Sãstrãs, even when ruling that during the act of
Namaskãra we should be throwing off our sense of superiority and lie low at the
ground level, did not wish to demean the women folks as they were
representatives of AmbãL and Motherhood.
So, they who protect the foetus as a living being and create the milk as
food for the new born babe after birth; were not to be made to display or soil
that part of the body by touching the ground.
So Ashtãnga Namaskãra for men became Panchãnga Namaskãra for women
demonstrating their physical and attitudinal penchant for flexibility, in which
they do Namaskãra by going down on their knees with, the five parts of the body
coming into contact with the ground being, the feet close together, two palms
close together and the forehead.
77. This act of 'VaNakkam' or
'VaNanguvadu' also means bending only.
From that view point, it looks as though what women do is the real Namaskãram. Men can do VaNakkam with their hands and may
be they can slightly bow their heads and bend the body above the hip. But it is only women who do proper
Namaskãram. Not only the word 'VaNakkam'
in Tamil, in Sanskrit also the root word 'Nam' – 'नम्', means 'bend'. When
that root word '' becomes the verb 'namanam' – 'नमनम्', it would mean 'to bend'. So the Namaskãram that men do, to lie like a
log, straight without a bend, cannot be called 'Namaskãra' at all! So the true Namaskãram or VaNakkam is truer
in Panchãngam that the ladies do!
Men May Also Do Panchãngam
78. Women are to do only Panchãngam and
are not to do Ashtãnga Namaskãra. But
men can do either Panchãnga or Ashtãnga Namaskãra. Mostly in North India, they only do the
Panchãnga Namaskãra. In our Dharma
Sãstrãs also both varieties of Namaskãra are allowed for menfolk. Sekkizhãr says that Sundaramurthy Nãyanãr did
both these two Namaskãrãs, 'ettinodu aindumãgum uruppinãl paNindu vaNanginãr' – 'எட்டினோடு ஐந்துமாகும்
உறுப்பினால் பணிந்து வணங்கினார்'. In many other Sãstrãs written by some Rishis
known as Kalpam, it is given that only for God and Pithrus considered equal to
God, we are required to do Ashtãnga Namaskãrãs and that for all other elders we
are to use Panchãnga Namaskãra only.
79. This is not an inviolable and
sacrosanct rule. Men could adopt
Panchãnga Namaskãra depending on circumstances.
For example if the space is rather restricted or crowded, men could do
Panchãnga Namaskãra. VaNakkam basically means not only physically
pliant but also mentally submissive. In
Tamil this VaNakkam has become something like an official terminology used
everywhere. But to note that instead of
keeping the idea of voluntary submissiveness, when the word is being used like
a Tamil salvo against use of other words from other languages, it is slightly
Sense of Nationality and Parochialism
80. Other than Tamil Nadu, all over India
the term used is 'Namaste' – 'नमस्ते' meaning 'Obeisance to you'! In Namaskãram, the word 'Nama:' – 'नम:' is 'Obeisance'.
When you add 'Karam' it is indicative of the action. In 'Namo Nama:', Siva Panjãkshari mantra and
in NarayaNa Ashtãkshari mantra, we are not adding that 'Karam' and only saying
'Nama:' isn't it? In Namaste, the 'te'
means 'to you'. It is this word
'Namaste' that is being used all over India with loving respect as a greeting,
except for Tamil Nadu. In other South
Indian States of Andhra, Karnataka and Kerala, setting aside whatever is the
pseudonym in their language, have adopted 'Namaste' in their Telugu, Kannada
and Malayala languages. In Telugu for
example like VaNakkam in Tamil, there is a word 'mrokka'. But, they rarely seem to be using that
word. They normally use this 'Namaste'
only and would with due respect rather say, 'namaskãramandi'.
81. Only here in Tamilnadu, due to a
hypocritical attitude towards use of language, setting aside the All India
currency of Namaste, they say 'VaNakkam' as though they are rubbing it in! Here too earlier on, 'Namaskãram' was quiet
prevalent, as the basis for 'Namaste' and 'Namaskãram' are one and the
same. Only in the last 100 years
'VaNakkam' has been virtually forced in.
Yes it is a beautifully sensibly meaningful word only with the same
meaning of Vinaya or PaNivu in it. Yes
one should be proud of one's own background and regional culture, alright. But at least while interacting with people
from other regions of the country, to bring in the regional modes is
anti-nationalism, isn't it? To set aside
nationalism and bring in regionalism is wrong in more than one way. Instead of calling it as 'Abhimãnam' we can
only call it parochialism bordering on insanity!
82. Still, demonstrating their respect for
regional pride, especially catering for 'Vote Bank' politics, the so called political leaders of other states also,
when they come here while talking in public meetings, end up saying 'VaNakkam'
even if their tongue will not permit the pronunciation of the Tamil word
correctly end up saying 'Vanakkam' – 'वनक्कं' instead of 'वणक्कं', as I am told!
Though they may say so outwardly, inwardly they have a nagging
discomfort about us Tamilians. One
gentleman even spoke to me about this.
When the whole country is moving in one direction, instead of joining
that mainstream, to cut that even in small matters and go in their own way; is
to an extent against national unity and integrity, he felt. If he spoke about VaNakkam, especially he was
regretting the introduction of 'Tamizh Archana' in temples!
83. Since I have touched that topic, let
me make a comprehensive statement about it.
In short what that North Indian gentleman was telling me, was something
like this. "Nowhere in the whole
country including in other Dravidian States, is there a demand for the Archana
Mantras in the mother tongue. Yes,
nobody is considering Sanskrit as the National Language. But since in our religion all the basic
authoritative books are in that language, it has been accepted as the common
'lingua franca' for all religious matters.
In all the temples in the north
or south, east or west, the procedures, systems, incantations are all in that
one common language of Sanskrit. In a
country like ours with many languages, ethnic differences and cultural milieu,
it is the temple procedures in Sanskrit that is contributing towards a feeling
of belonging to one family of one common heritage. So, even setting aside their trueness to
Sãstrãs, for the sake of national unity, these procedures should be saved and
protected as they are, without any meddling!"
84. Travellers from all over the country may
and do visit any temple in any State of India.
If you take your Rameswaram Temple or Madurai Meenãkshi Temple of
Tanjavur Brihad Easwara Temple; you may notice that half the devotees on any
particular day are from other states of India.
Thus at any one time we can see a Mini-India assembled there in these
temples, from VaishNo Devi Temple in J & K to Kanya Kumari. Nowadays people are more interested in travel
and in our Indian ambience, temples are the most popular tourist spots! On the one hand government and other non-governmental
organizations enable such concessions as L.T.C. and travel agencies are also on
the increase. Such being the case, to have worship
procedures conducted in the regional languages is against national unity and
integrity", that gentleman kept on!
I have been giving my attention to this aspect for quite some time now. I have consulted many authorities
knowledgeable in Sãstrãs and Ãgamãs (which especially cover procedures for
worship in Temples) in trying to find some common grounds for a
compromise. This I conveyed to that
gentleman from the North.
be continued, with the compromise formula for Archana in Temples.)
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