Saturday, September 27, 2008

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 108 (of Vol 2) Dt 14 May 2008

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 108 (of Vol 2) Dt 14 May 2008

(These are translations of talks given by Periyaval of Kanchi Kamakoti peetam, over a period of some sixty years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of last century. These have been published in Tamil by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each, as Deivathin Kural. Today we are proceeding ahead of Page 813 of the Tamil original. )


1. After Choulam is Upanayanam. This is conducted when the child has reached the age when he has learnt some Sanskrit that he can cognise, remember and repeat the mantras, on his own. In this ceremony, when the conducting Purohit or the Father of the child, who is the one giving him the Gayatri Mantra as the Guru, tells him, “biksha charyam chara”, the boy being given the ‘Yagnyopaveetam’ says, ‘baadham’. That is, the Guru tells him to go and do begging to collect alms, the boy says, ‘OK, I will do so!’ If he is told such things before he can understand some amount of Sanskrit, he is likely to be at a loss for proper response. So he starts his initial education at the age of five and by eight, he is ready for the Upanayanam. If all the children wear their Yagnopaveetham and chant the Gayathri mantra, from age eight, the whole world will be a much better place to be in! Whereas, now-a-days all that we are managing to do is instilling agnosticism in a variety of ways into the young minds.

2. Brhmacharya Ashramam. ‘Upanayanam’, means ‘to take the child near‘. Near whom? To take the Sishya near the Guru is ‘Upanayanam’. Who is the Guru? They are the ‘Veda Vits’. For the first Ashramam there is one Guru and one for the last Ashramam. For the first Ashramam the Guru is well versed in Vedas and all its parts. For the last Ashramam is the Guru who has given up everything of this worldly life including Vedas and has attained to Adwaita Anubhava. The aim or task in the first Ashramam is to gain knowledge and in the last Ashramam, it is to gain Gnana.

3. Upanayanam is the start of Brhmacharyam and its end is ‘Samavartanam’ or in other words, the duration between Upanayanam and Samavartanam is Brhmacharyam! Samavartanam means, ‘return and restart’, that is, to come back from Guru Kulam, having completed learning of theoretical (meaning Adhyayanam) and applied Vedas(meaning Adhyapakam and Purohitam), to return to worldly pursuits of earning a livelihood (through Adhyapakam and Purohitam and Teaching may be Ayur Veda / Dhanur Veda / Arts and Crafts such Shilpa Kala, Carpentary, Vasthu Sastra and so on). He could also decide to go back to further advanced studies of the Vedas.

4. Upanayanam is poorvaangam or the first part. That means that there has to be a main part. The main part is Brhmacharyam. The word Brhma has six connotations. One meaning for the word Brhma is the Vedas. One Ashramam has been specially created for exhaustively learning one branch of the Vedas. That Ashramam is Brhmacharyam. Minimum time duration for that job is 12 years. To learn one branch of the Vedas with its parts and sub-parts (ie.,Sa+anga+ upangam=saangopa ngam), takes that much time at the least. (Elsewhere in these talks, I have spoken about how Rishi Bharghava took three life times for learning the Vedas and was doing Tapasya for getting a fourth life time for further studies of the Vedas. Siva appeared in front of him and said, “I will grant your wish. But you better know that, if what you have already learnt of the Vedas can be compared to this ant-hill, the balance portion that you have to learn yet is as huge as those three mighty mountains!”) I said that the word ‘Brhma’ has six connotations. One is the Vedas. Vishnu, Siva, Brahmin caste, Tapasya, and form of Paramatma are the others. When you extend the word as Brhmaa, that means the four faced, whose wife is Saraswathi.

5. Brhmacharyam is a vow of abstinence taken for learning the Vedas. The preliminary action in that process is Upanayanam. We do ‘parishechanam’ of placing a small line of water droplets around the plate containing our food, before we start eating. This is not only to prevent ants from approaching the plate, but to offer the food to God before we partake of the same. So parishechanam is a preparatory action. Having done so, not to eat the food is being daft! Similarly, having got the ‘poonool’ in Upanayanam, not to pursue study of the Vedas is nothing short of being stupid! We are all guilty of that omission!

6. Between Upanayanam that is the Poorvaangam and Samaavartanam that is the Uttaraangam; that is, during the period of Brhmacharyam, there are four Vrataas or Vows known as, Prajaapatyam, Sowmyam, Aagneyam and Vaiswadevam. For any Mantra to be effective, ‘Niyamam’ that is, discipline is essential. The whole of Veda is a collection of Mantras for the progressive improvement of individuals. So to learn that, we have to have a disciplined approach. The whole of Brhmacharyam itself is a period of disciplined abstinence. For each part of the Vedas too there are individual Vrataas. Vedas has been divided into four ‘Kaandam’ / Cantos. While learning each Kandam, you are required to observe a particular Vratam. They are Prajapatyam, Sowmyam, Aagneyam and Vaiswadevam. When they are all over, with the permission of the Guru, you have to do the Samskaram for returning home from Guru Kulam, that is Samavartanam.

7. The above four Kanda Vrathams are meant for Krishna-Yajur Vedam. Similarly for Rik Vedam, the four Vratams are known as, Maha Namni Vratam, Maha Vratam, Upanishad Vratam and Godaana Vratam. Like this for each Veda there are different Vratams. Since Krishna-Yajur Vedam is more in prevalence, I mentioned them. When you finish the period of Brhmacharyam there is a special bath known as ‘Snanam’ and the person who has done that special snanam is known as, ‘Snathak’. Everybody should learn Vedas by way of Adhyayanam. When in the month of Avani in the star of Avittam we do Upakarma, we are supposed to start the new portion of the Veda. This is required to be finished by the full moon in the month of Thai. That is during the six months of dakshinayanam, vedadyayanam should be done. Next six months should be used for learning the six parts of Vedaangam. While doing Veda Adyayanam, we should be observing the special Niyama of Vratam for that Canto of the Veda and the general Vratam of Brhmacharyam. Then only the mantras can be effective. We do not do any of these things as required. On the day of marriage, we reduce the process done over the years, within a one hour period, calling it a Vratam! This compelled me talk about all this.

8. Having made someone capable of receiving knowledge of the Vedas, we should make use of the opportunity to spread the powerful Vedik Vibrations the world over through him. So Upanayanam should be done in time by the eighth year after some initiation into Sanskrit. Even those children who may not take it up as a profession, once given the Poonool / Yagnopaveetam, whether he belongs to the Brahmin or Kshatriya or Vaisya castes, should be making efforts to learn the Vedas, may be over a longer period. Arranging for the poonal Kalyanam and encouraging him to learn the Vedas is the responsibility of the parents. I have to note with regret that, the Sastras are being given scant courtesy now-a-days. From referring to the Sastras for anything and everything, we have come to ignore it completely, in our country!

Rules of Sastra and General Practices.
9. There is one funny thing in this, which is also a big head-ache. Even while transgressing the rules of the Sastras without any concern or care, some practices have gained in importance as though they are inviolable and sacrosanct and so are being strictly adhered to! For example, when there is a sister waiting for marriage, the younger brother should not be given the Upanayanam. This may be being done so as to avoid a major expenditure before the marriage of the girl or so as to club the two expenses on marriage of the girl and Upanayanam of the younger brother! But it is not a rule of the Sastra. Come to think of it, if you still went ahead and conducted the Upanayanam at the right time, you are not only doing things as required in the Sastras, but also may be, will find a suitable match for the girl in the bargain! ‘At one time there should not be more than two Brhmacharis in the same family’, is another such blind belief. Eventually, the third son gets his Yagnopaveetham one day before his marriage. Nothing can be more ridiculous than this!

10. It is not correct to go by whims and fancies in matters clearly defined in Sastras! Tradition, customs and convenience, should not have a priority over the rules of the Sastras. Aapasthamba Rishi at the end of his Dharma Sastra says, “what I have said is not the be-all and end-all. There are many rules and regulations which have come into being by family or regional customs. These you have to know from ladies of the family and the general public of the fourth caste and abide by them!” When he said so, what is meant is that those rules in addition to the Dharma Sastras were to be followed and not those if they happen to be contrary to Dharma Sastras.

11. Upanayana Samskaram should not be postponed for whatever reasons. Anyhow lack of funds should never be the reason. At least in a marriage, we have many other compulsions. Somehow, a lot of ‘pomp and show’ has come to be associated with a marriage. You have to find a suitable match for the girl and to a large extent abide with the wishes of the would be in-laws. There is no such compulsion in the case of Upanayanam. So, to delay this Samskara is unpardonable!

(To be continued.)



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