Saturday, September 13, 2008

Deivathin Kural # 53 of (Vol 2) of 28 Nov 2007.

Om Namah Sivaya.

Deivathin Kural # 53 of (Vol 2) of 28 Nov 2007.

(We are to remind the readers that herein, 'he' as a word stands for 'she' as well. When Tamil or Sanskrit words are transliterated in English, the single vowel will indicate a short utterance and a double vowel will indicate a longer pronounciation. Words in Sanskrit script not being available, the transliteration spellings and thereby the pronounciation, especially of names may be at variance from what it should be!)

1. In the five thousand odd years, since Veda Vyasa's grouping of the Vedas in to four, many of the 1180 branches, have just disappeared and we are at the pathetic stage of having been left with only six or seven Shakhas or branches of the Vedas. When I say Shakha, I am looking at the initial Samhita portion. Out of the 21 branches of Rik Veda, only one is alive and known! It is called, 'Saakala Shaakha'. Since the Aithreya Upanishad occurs in this branch, it is alternately called as 'Aithareya Shakah' too. In Shukla Yajus, out of 15, only two are still there. Out of them the Kanva Shakha is alive in Maharashtra. Maadhyantina Shakha is spread in many places in North India. Amongst the 94 branches of Krishna Yajus, only Thaithreeyam is noticeable in South India. Out of the 1000 in Saama Veda 997 are lost forever. In South India the Talavakara/Jaiminiya Shakha is prevalent. In Maharashtra in some places Ranaayaneeya Shakha is surviving. In Gujarat and Kerala Gowthuma Shakha is present. Out of the fifty branches of Atharva Veda, we were afraid not a single one seemed to have survived. After a lot of search, we located the Sounaka branch, in a place known as Sinor in Gujarat. We sent students from Tamil Nadu to learn this branch of the Atharva Veda.

2. Now about the Brahmanas. Out of the Brahmanas from the Rik Veda, Aithareya and Kousheedaki (also called Sankaayana) Brahmanas are available. Their respective Upanishads are also available. Out of the Shukla Yajus Brahmanas, 'Satapata' Brahmana is the only one currently in practice. This with some differences is common between the branches of Maadhyantina and Kaanva Shakhas. This is a book which is big and serves as a specimen of all the Vedas. Easawasyopanishad comes in the Samhita portion itself, of this Veda. Then is it's Aranyakam, which is not only an Aranyakam but also completely an Upanishad, the Brihad Aranyakam. In Krishna Yajus, the currently useful Brahmanam is 'Thaithreeyam'. It's Aranyakam is also called 'Thaithreeyam', in which are the 'Thaithreeya Upanishad and Maha Narayana Upanishad'. Many useful Sukthas and Mantras are found in this Maha Narayana Upanishad. In Krishna Yajus, there is also 'Maitrayani Aranyakam' and the Upanishad of the same name. One of the Branches of Krishna Yajus is 'Kata' Shakha, whose Samhitai, Brahmanam and Aranyakam, are not available. But the Katopanishad is the only part of this branch of the Veda, available. Similarly, in Krishna Yajus, Swetasvatara Upanishad, which occurs at the end of the Samhitai portion of that Branch, is the only part of that Branch of the Veda available!

3. In the Saama Veda Samhitais 997 have been lost, from amongst it's Brahmanas, seven or eight have survived. Those Brahmanas are, Dhandya, Aarsheya, Devatadyaaya, Samhitopanishad, Vamsa, Shadvimsa, Saamavidaana, Saantokya and Jaimineeya. In this Veda, the Talavakaara Aaranyakam is also known as Talavakaara Brahmanam. The last one in this is the 'Kenopanishad', (which also has a name, Talavakaara Upanishad). Then you have the Santokya Upanishad, from the same named Brahmanam.

4. Atharva Vedam is completely lost except for, One Brahmanam, namely the Gopada Brahmanam and the three famous Upanishads, 'Prasnam, Mundakam and Mandookyam'. 'Nrusimha Dapini Upanishad' is also from Atharva Veda. (Out of the 1180 branches with their Samhitai, Brhmanam, Aranyakam and Upanishad; what we are left with is some seven or eight, even that with or without all the parts! Now if we draw a diagram of four trees with branches in different colours for 'what was' and 'what is', that will give us some idea of the state of paucity and poverty that we have reached from plenty and rightful pride! That will also enable the readers of these e-mails to remember the names atleast of the surviving portion of our Vedas!) If we let these few 'scattered and battered remains' become extinct, and not available for the subsequent generations, that will be a sin of such proportions and magnitude; for which there will be neither atonement nor compensation!

5. In the so-called Dravida Desam that is, especially the SW corner of South India,( what is called Kerala to-day,) amongst the Namboodiri's I said, the Lamp of Veda was burning bright. Till recently, Andhra is a place where Veda Abhyaasam has been quite active and fruitful. One of the important reason has been the Yearly Examinations and Vidvat Sadas, held around the Vasantha Nava-rathri period, in Vijayawada. Those who participate in the Sadas and those who pass the exams, are honoured with Certificates of Merit, Presents and Cash Incentives. In this exam, many students from all over the country participate. The Sadas is attended by many knowledgeable Vedavit householders and some foreigners too. Then when they return home, on the way, if they show the certificate, they will be respected and honoured as welcome guests, in any household. In Andhra, there is another very beautiful custom. Whenever, they plan for conduct of a marriage or construction of a building; a percentage of the expenditure is set aside as 'Dakshina' for the Brahmins. An important point to understand here! To give to people who have, is Daanam. To give to people who do not have, is Dharmam. To give to a Brahmin for his Vidvat, is enabling and guarding him from the 'lure of lucre', which is more than, 'Daanam and Dharmam'!

6. Yes, a Brahmin should not be running after money. He should guard against greed. If he runs after money, he is not a Brahmin at all. But all other professions other than this, Adhyayanam, Adhyaapakam and Teaching; are more lucrative. If someone adopts the Vaidik life as a profession, he has to barely manage to eke out a living. This state of affairs should go. He should be able to do fairly well. This is the responsibility of the society to take care of a Brahmin's material comforts. This was so in the Telugu speaking areas of the country, till very recently, which is the reason for prevalence of more Vaidik 'well being' in such areas. We are now trying to revive the Veda Patasalas all over the country and especially in the South by arranging for sufficient funds for such purposes.

7. In Tamil Nadu, till there were Nayakars and Maharashtrians and such Hindu Rajas in power, here and in other Swadeshi Samasthanas, the Brahmin community were looked after fairly well, with encouragements and Tax exemptions. A person who had learnt a complete branch of the Vedas was known as a 'Srothriyan'. Sruthi is Vedam, giving raise to this name. Srothrians were honoured by donation of lands. Such Villages where brahmins were residing, were exempted from paying taxes, and called, 'Irai ili'. Such villages used to be called, 'Brhmadeyam' or 'Chatur Vedi Mangalam' and some such names. They are all given to Brahmin communities because of the fact that, these people would be earning such income, as not to be able to pay taxes. This sort of facility was extended to them even during the rule of Muslim Nawabs and the East India Company. Still, things were going from bad to worse. Many Brahmin families had to convert their assets into cash and look for sustenance in cities and towns, opt for modern education learning English and gravitate towards Government jobs, clerical cadre, Indian Civil Service and such. The irreversible exodus from Vaidik way of life had started!

8. If there were one set of people so created and evolved, to be able to stand apart, while maintaining the highest standards of mental and moral discipline; without getting too involved with the main concern for the worldly requirement of making ends meet; but devote their entire life for individual personal ennoblement, while simultaneously work towards the benefit of others of the society, community, tribe, region, nation and humanity as a whole; and in so doing commit the future generations to such tasks; this was the only unique Brahmin community, not to be found anywhere else at any other time, in the history of Man! Their's was not the story of 'Sodom and Gomorrah' or the fall of the 'Roman Empire'. When without being aware of their own unique specialist role, they left the Vedas and shifted to the white man's education and culture; they were Brahmins no more except in name.

The Duty of a Brahmin.

9. Having heard me for so long, all the Brahmins by birth, must do something in their life, to protect the Vedas. "Vedo rakshati rakshita :". 'Vedas protect the protector'. Daily, he should do 'Brhma Yagnam'. Brhma Yagnam is one of the Five great Yagnas. Here Brhma means Vedas. Like the eternal, 'anaiyaa vilakku' burning forever, so that this Mantra power may be with us, we have to do that. Whosoever is the Maharishi of that branch of the Veda to which born, we should do 'thrpanam' every day. Having done that, we should chant at the least one sentence or minimum two words of that Veda! If that is also not possible, the barest minimum is chanting of the 'Gayathri Mantra'. Gayathri is the essence of the Vedas. It is said that only after initiation to the Gayathri Mantra, Vedas may be chanted. That Gayathri shold be chanted 'sahasra aavrutti' ie., thousand times every day. Again the minimum is, at least ten a day! Gayathri causes the mental equipoise known as 'chitta suddhi', which is responsible for attitudinal balance and behavioural correctness. It's Devata is the Sun. His day of 'Sunday' happens to be a holiday. At least that day we could get up at four in the morning and do a 1,008 Gayathri Mantra chanting. ( At a moderate estimate, it should not take more than 80 minutes.) All Brahmins should learn at least, Purusha Suktham, Sri Suktham and Rudram.

10. What I said above are meant for those Brahmins in other professions and employed now. Since they cannot learn all that is contained in a Branch of the Vedas, that is the 'minimum programme'. But, when you do things despite difficulties, that is when the merit is more. So, even now if you start, in a few years, Adhyayanam can be completed. Are not people working and earning M Phil and Doctorate, say even after 50 or 60 years of age? If you have the will, you have the way. Having remained unaware of Vedas throught one's life, there have been people who have done Adhyayanam, after crossing 40 years of age. Amongst the office bearers of our Veda Rakshana Trust, there are such people! So sincerity of purpose and will are the important points.

11. What ever happens to those who are already old and employed, I will leave it to their personal decision. But when it comes to the next generation, I insist that they should be given some exposure to Veda Adhyayanam. (Thus, if I myself give too much margin, that may be the cause for a lackadaisical approach! But I am afraid that, If I am too rigid and give a draconian order, it may go by default!) They should get their 'Upanayanam' done by the time they are 8 years of age and for some eight years, in the evening, they should be taught the important portions of the Vedas, by way of special tution. If done in a co-operative basis, the expenditure can be less. In addition some poor children could also benefit!

12. More than anything else, we have to enrgise the Veda Patasalas which are barely surviving, by funds and recruitment. This can only be done, if the Veda Adhyaapakas and Adhyaayis are helped financially substantially. As I said earlier, a Brahmin should not become too used to comforts and luxuries. His is a life of sacrifices and perseverence. But in the modern world when the tempting distractions are too many and varied, if atleast some of them have to abide with 'Swadharma' of Veda Adhyayana, Adhyaapana, Karma Anushtaana of Yagnas and daily, monthly and special occassions Samskaras; their creature comforts should be taken care of so that, they may not have to worry about 'making ends meet'! When everyone is running after money and the comforts of modern life, if we have to tell some people to abjure and abnegate all that, they are likely to renounce the Vedas themselves! We have to take care of them to the extent that they do not run away to other professions! That is what we are working on.

(In the next e-mail, we will talk about the plans for protection of Vedas.)




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