Saturday, September 13, 2008

Deivathin Kural # 54 of (Vol 2) of 30 Nov 2007.

Om Namah Sivaya.

Deivathin Kural # 54 of (Vol 2) of 30 Nov 2007.

(Note 1. 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! Note 2. In this e-mail, Periyaval is talking about some money matters. It may please be noted that the talk is dated some time in the late 1950's and early 60's. Due corrections to the value of the Rupee may be applied, in your minds to be able to relate to, what must be the status today! I am giving it verbatim.)

Plans for Protection of Vedas

1. In 1954, I was completing 60 years of age. Many of the devotees approached me with the proposal that my Shashti Abda Poorthi, should be celebrated in a big way. My response was this. "I do not want any special celebration for my completion of 60 years of age. I do not want to get the dubious distinction, for having been the Mata Adhipadi, during which time, the Vedas have disappeared from the Earth! If you people save me from this ignominy, that will be the best 'Utsavam' or celebration, for me. Short of this, I do not deserve any celebration!" After this a Trust by the name of, 'Shashti Abda Poorthi Trust' was created, with the purpose of encouraging Study of Veda Bhashyams. Veda Bhashyam is to give the meaning of Vedas and elaborate the implications. To understand the words of the Vedas, must come only after Adhyayanam has been done. At the time the trust was created, some Adhyayanam was going on. But reading the Bhashyam, was just not being done anywhere. The very system was going kaput! So, we wanted to concentrate our efforts in trying to revive that practice.

2. So then, in 1957, in Kalavai, the devotees expressed a wish to celebrate the completion of 50 years, since my ascension to the Peetadhipathi. At that time, we decided that we should take steps towards giving a thrust forward for Veda Adhyayanam, instead of limiting our concern to Veda Bhashyam only. We established the Kalavai Brindavana Trust. Kalavai is the place of 'Siddhi', of my Guru and Paramaguru, where there is their 'Samaadhi' of Brindaavanam located. Then was created, 'Veda Dharma Saastra Paripalana Sabha', for conducting periodic Veda Sammelanas, where qualified scholors of Veda could be given opportunities to display their expertise and young children could be given chances to pass promotional exams. Then in 1960, Veda Rakshana Nidhi Trust, came into being, for conducting Veda Gurukula schools all over India and honour Vedic scholors. This Trust does the job of co-ordinating all the efforts of the three organizations.

3. In this was a proviso that as long as a student does Adhyayanam, whether in schools as day scholor or in individual Guru's houses ie., does Guru Kula Vasa Adhyayanam or in his own house under his father as the Guru; we will conduct an examination once a year. To complete one Branch of the Veda, it takes eight years. Every year the student has to appear in the exam and pass it. At the end he will get the certificate. Depending on the level of progress, the certificate would endow a title as, 'Padaanta Swaadyayi or Krama Pathi'. Other than the title, we also provide cash assistance. From the day the boy is taken as a student, he and his Guru are entitled to some monetary benefit. Based on the number of students, the teacher gets a monthly pay. So that the student may not run away with only limited learning, the student gets the money only when he completes the Adhyayanam.

4. By this plan, the Guru gets 100 to 150 Rupees per student per year. With ten students under him, he will get atleast Rs. 1,500/- annual. The student would be accumulating some three to four hundred rupees every year, that at the end of eight years, he will get a lump sum of two to four thousand rupees. At the end of Adhyayanam, there are students who further learn Kavyam and Saastram and develop proficiency in the Sanskrit language, when he gets a title known as, 'Salakshana Ganapadigal', when he gets additional Sambhavana of 1,500 to 3,000 rupees, with a percentage going to the Guru. To do 'Samita Daanam' and 'Bikshadanam' is a Brhmachary's dharma. Samita Daanam is to do a short version of Yagnam every day. Bikshadanam is to go with a begging bowl and collect food everyday. Students get double Sambhavana for doing these two activities. The earlier-mentioned study of Veda Bhashyam, comes only after becoming a Salakshana Ganapaadigal. This will take another seven to eight years.

5. Thus the whole process takes, Eight years upto Krama Pathi; then another four years to become Salakshana Ganapaadigal; and another seven years for the study of Bhashyam. Even in the normal educational system, for studies upto M.A. or M.Sc.,it takes 17 to 18 years from the first class. Similarly this also takes 19 years, since after all, this is a universally more useful education for all those concerned as well as all those unconcerned! Actually by the time a student becomes capable of usefully doing the study of Veda Bhashyam, he is close to the age of earning a livelihood. So we thought that, if he is not to look for earning a livelihood and give his attention to further academics, we have to take care of his pecuniary benefits by giving him a stipend. So, in seven years conducting 13 exams, one every six months, we arranged to pay, Rs.60/- for first class, and Rs. 40/- and 30/- for second and third classes respectively. Then we also introduced some more benefits, between each exam successively; with a little less for those who fail. The idea is to motivate them to persevere without giving up.

6. At the end of this study of Veda Bhashyam at the end of 18 years, the idea was not to leave him in the lurch, only with the last year's Sambhavanai. The Veda Vidya that he has earned should give him at least sustenance. So we give him, at the end of study of Veda Bhashyam, all that has accrued on his name and a Rs. 7,000/- if he has obtained a First Class and Rs.5,000/- and 3,000/- each to a Second and Third Class respectively. We also honour them with a, "Bhashya Ratna or Bhashya Mani or Bhashyagna", Title respectively. Other than this, we have a 'Paramparya Niyamadhyayana Dhittam'. In this, wherever children are learning the Vedas, from their respective Fathers, for what ever reasons, and such arrangement has been going on for generations, let us say. We wanted to encourage this. Whatever the compulsions, our only aim is the spread of Vaidik parampara. So, under this system, when the boy starts Adhyayana, we make a deposit of Rs. 12,500/- in the bank, so that he gets a monthly stipend, throughout his studentship. He is put through the same yearly exams and is entitled to all the benefits otherwise being given to other students on passing the exams.

Veda Bhashyam.

7. It is enough to learn the Vedas, without knowing or learning the meaning of the Vedas. We have said earlier that the sound of the Mantras have the power, beyond our capacity for understanding. With no idea of their meaning, chanting on a simple belief that it will do good, is 'veeryavattaram', meaning very powerful, as I have affirmed earlier. It does not mean however that, I am against the idea of people learning the meaning of Vedas. If Adhyayanam took seven/eight years; and Kavyas, Puranas, Saastras and Sanskrit took another four years; Study of Veda Bhashyam is going to take another seven or eigh years! To tie up a student for so long, denying the families of possible income is too much to ask for. That is why, if I insisted that Vedas can be protected only if learning of Vedas should mean understanding the meaning also, I was afraid that I may fall much short of my expectations. That is why, half seriously and half heartedly, I was saying, "No need for the meaning; sounds of the Vedas will do!"

8. The real requirement is that, the majority could be those whose main job to protect the sounds of the Vedas. In addition we must ensure that there are some at least, who are knowledgeable and well versed in Veda Bhashyam too. So this area has also been specially taken care of. Vedas have very deep, inner and subtle meaning. What is beyond the reach of the normal mind's understanding and comprehension; when put into words; need to be explained by people with uncluttered minds. The words of the Vedas have that sort of deeper significance requiring concentration, attentivity and deliberation. That is why great thinkers have taken pains to write the Bhashyams. Can we afford to let them go unread and thus go waste?

9. In our houses and families, we conduct many functions, birth days celebration with Ayush Homam and Nava Graha Homam, Marriages, Sradham, Rama Navami, Krishna Ashtami, Avani Avittam and so on, when the Srouthi is called to conduct the function. The Vadhyar chants many mantras from the Vedas, during those occassions and some of us repeat them. Others don't even do that! We have not gone yet to the stage of total stoppage of all such programmes. Neither are we enjoying their conduct because, mostly it is all not understood. Generally the tendency is to get over the Veda Mantra portion quickly done away with; and then give more attention to other formalities! The very fact that for each type of function, there is an elaborately different Mantra, should indicate that their meaning also must be varied and different. Actually if we get to know the meaning, we will become aware that these mantras have enormous relevance on very scientific basis. In addition they have emotional appeal and social correctness and appropriateness too. Meaning of the Mantras thus give the person chanting them a sense of purposefulness in doing the Karma. Actually, if anybody is just talking something, going on and on muttering meaninglessly, we call it 'devasa mantram'. All the more reason that we should make these Mantras understandable.

10. How to do this? First the Vaadyar has to understand the meaning. Now-a-days, many Srouthis do not know themselves. If a Kartha or Yajamaanan asks him as to what is the meaning of the Mantra, many of the Vaadyaars do not know! So it is but natural, that there is a general waning of interest all around. This is for the procedural and functional matras, let alone deep philosophical thoughts and concepts! I believe that there is a general urge to know and understand the meaning of these Mantras. Actually one of the main reasons for waning of interest in Vaidik activities, is due lack of understanding of the meaning of the Mantras. So, we are taking special efforts to see to it that, those who take up this profession should be made capable of explaining the meaning of what they are chanting. (The Arya Samajis tried to simplify the procedures and translate the Mantras in to the colloquial. But that had the effect of undermining the value of the Vedas!) Niruktam is one of the six parts of the Vedas ('shadangam'). In Niruktam, chanting the Vedas without understanding the meaning has been cursed. Great Saints have written the Bhashyams so that the common folk could understand the message of the Vedas, initially in the Karmas and later as the interest intensifies, in the logic of philosophical analysis.

11. Madhvacharyar has written the Bhashyam for the first 40 sukthams of Rik Veda. One Skanda Swami has also written the Rik Veda Bhashyam. For Krishna Yajur Vedam, there is the Bhashyam written by 'Patta Baskara'. Sukhla Yajus has the one written by 'Mahidara'. In recent times, Dayananda Saraswathi, Aravinda Ghosh, and following Aravinda Ghosh, Sri Kapali Saastry, have written Veda Bhashyams. Then there are the Bhashyams written by Adi Sankara, Ramanujacharya and Madhvacharya, on the 'Prasthaana Thrayam', that is, Brhma Suktam, Bhagawat Gita and the Ten Upanishads. Amongst all this, the foremost Bhashyam is that done by Sri Sayanacharya, accepted even by foreign researchers as authoritative. He is the 14th century scholor, known as Sri Vidyaranya Swamigal, who established the Vijaya Nagara Empire, rejuvinated the Adi Sankara Matams and also wrote his commentary on Rik, Yajus, Saama and Atharva Vedas. Since Yajus contained Krishna and Sukhla Yajus, he has written Bhashyam on both. Thus, he has covered the five Vedas. Though others have also written Bhashyams before him, no one before him or after have covered all the Vedas, thus! In addition, he has also authored many other works on Uttara and Poorva Meemaamsas. To think of the volume of his works and then the quality of it and then relate to the fact that he was a Political Minister in the Empire that he created, it is just Awe inspiring as to how much can be packed in one life time!

(In the next e-mail, we will continue from Sri Vidyaranya Swami's Bhashyam.)




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