Sunday, September 14, 2008

Deivathin Kural # 88 of (Vol 2) of 24 Feb 2008.

Om Namah Sivaya.

Deivathin Kural # 88 of (Vol 2) of 24 Feb 2008.

(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! I offer my sincere apologies for the likely errors, as the one doing the translation. ---KTSV Sarma. Note 2. It may please be noted that the talk is dated some time in the late 1930's to early 60's.


(Continued from DK # 87 of (Vol 2) of 21 Feb 2008.)

32. Puranas may contain some imaginary portions. May be some of the later day people involved in writing or making copies may have interpolated some portions to replace illegible parts due to being smudged or eaten by white ants! But who is to decide as to what is fictitious, imaginary interpolations? If everyone starts deleting something, we may end up losing all. So it is our duty to save them in the condition found, even when portions may seem like interpolations. How does it matter if they have some fiction. Do they make us think of God and give us some amount of piece of mind? If the answer to that question is 'yes', then they serve the purpose for which they have been created! You go to a shop to buy something, say. Are we interested in the quality of the material being purchased or in the quality of the shop keeper's dress? If something of Astrological calculation or description of Manvantharam(life time of a Manu) say, is slightly off the grid; you have other ways of knowing their correctness such as Geography, Astronomy and History. But Puraanas give us some understanding of 'Paramatma Tatva, Bhakti and Dharma', which none of the modern disciplines of science can give us!

33. Some of the criticism against Puranas run on the lines explained hereinafter. "Treta Yugam is said to be before Dvapara yuga. That means Sri Rama's time must have been some nine to 19 lac years in the past. So many years back there could not have been the sort of civilization as described in the Ramayana." This is no sane argument but what we can call, 'Vidandaa Vaadam'. Let it be so. Let not Rama be of the period of Treta Yuga. Let all the stories said to have been events of Kruta Yuga not have happened so many years back. For the sake of argument, let us take that all that happened only some eight to nine thousand years back. Does it in any way reduce value and worth of those events described? Does it in any way affect the value of the lessons brought out? Value systems like, Truth, Integrity, Honesty, Kindness, Magnanimity, Humility, are such that their values do not diminish with time! They are imperishable values of eternal validity! So how does this criticism carry any relevance?

34. Very similar to the criticism of the dates of these Puranas, is the one about when they were written. The Kali Yuga is for 432,000 years, out of which some five thousand years are said to have elapsed. Vyasa, who has written the 18 Puranas, is said to be part of the Maha Bharata that he has written. This is so mentioned in the Sastras. But before him, there were Puranas. In Santokya Upanishad, Narada while talking of the Vidyas that he had studied(done Adhyayanam), he mentions Puranas as one of them. So we can conclude that, Puranas are as old as the Vedas and Upanishads. As Vyasa gave a condensed version of the Vedas and divided them into four parts as Rik, Yajur, Saama and Atharvana; to suit the lessened capabilities of the later day humans to concentrate, study and retain in memory; he also gave a consolidated version of the Puranas too, it seems. So the Puranas should have been written some 5,000 years back.

35. But the so called research people say that the Puranas cannot be all that old. I say, let it not be that old. In the Kandaswamy Temple in George Town, there is a big crowd of devotees every day. There is serenity and a pious atmosphere evolving automatically. The devotees get a feeling of belonging and satisfaction. Is it not that, the devotees should be interested in? Instead, what is the great fun in wasting one's time and energy in trying to find answers to questions such as, "When was this temple constructed? Was it existing at the time of Arunagiri Nathar? Has he sung any Thiruppugazh on this deity?" How do these questions and the answers to them are of any relevance? The research in to the dates of the occurences mentioned in the Puranas and the dates on which they were written, is all irrelevant. Individual personal refinement and ennoblement, is the purpose of the Puranas. Once this point is understood, many of the objections will vanish in to thin air!

36. Actually, belief in the printed word, especially when it is said to be the findings of research work, seems to be the biggest 'blind belief' of the modern world! These researches are full of faults, short-comings and vehicles of vested interests of multi national companies and politicians! Even if the whole of Puranas were only fictitious, one can always relate them to the present day world and draw lessons and morals, for personal refinement and ennoblement; which is their purpose! But what irks me more is the fact that, not only among people of modern education and life style, but even among those who are involved in the profession of Adyayanam, Adhyapakam and Purohitam; Puranam seems to have lost its value and importance. Those who give lectures(Pravachanam) on Puranas are considered in low esteem! Anyhow, there was a time, as I said earlier, when Pouranikars were responsible for reaching the message of the Veda, Vedantam to the common man, through the Puranas, that even uneducated in India lived by very high moral standards as obtaining nowhere else in the world. This was the reason that Mr Macaulay could note after extensive tour of the whole country in the 19th Century that, 'he could not find a single begger or thief in this country'! In that vein I must make mention of names of scholors, who have been great Pouranikars such as, Yagnaswamy Sastrigal, Kape Ramachandraachar, Srivatsa Somadeva Sarma, Sengalipuram Anantharama Deekshidar, Embar Vijayaraghavachariyar, Bala Krishna Sastrigal, Thiru Muruga Kripananda Variyar, Smt T.R. Kamala Murthy, Kalyanapuram Aravamudan and 'Anna' Sri Krishna Premi. (KTSV adds:- I have added the last seven under lined names, on my own. Further information is that, Srivatsa Somadeva has got the Eighteen Puranas translated in Tamil and got them published. I am trying to find out details of it. I shall inform you all, as and when I get to know it. 'Anna' Sri Krishna Premi's daughter-in-law is doing a wonderful job of Pravachanam of the Puranas these days. Smt Vishaka Hariji by name, she has a golden voice and is well grounded in classical music too, to add to the glory of her talks! Smt Sudha Seshayyan is another highly qualified person, doing a very professional job of doing Pravachanam.)

The Endowment by Vyasa.

37. The great Vyasa Maharishi, who reorganised the illimitable Vedas in to Four clearly defined parts, also wrote the Eighteen Puranas, known as Ashtadasa Puranas. I would call him the first role model as a journalist. He has given an ideal mix of narration of Classical Stories containing, History, Geography, Philosophy, Morality, Literature, Arts & Crafts and Culture; for the pleasure of a whole range of people from the elite cream of intelligentia to the unread proletariat common man, as an endowment for generations to come. He has actually gone far ahead of the journalists. They go for sensationalism or what they think is sensational. But what Vyasa has done is not only 'Jana ranjakam', but also capable of taking the reader across the turbulant oceans of this worldly life in the safety of Dharma, to the very destination of 'Param Dhaama'. In trying to make the news interesting, the journalists err on the wrong side of morality and cater for the prurient, salacious, crass and morbid. Actually, if they have Vyasa as a role-model, not only will they cleanse their own minds but contribute immensely for 'Loka Kshemam'.

38. Vyasa has written these 18 Puranas in 4,00,000 granthas. A Grantham is a poem of 32 Aksharas / Letters. In this 4 lac granthas, one fourth is 'Skaanda Puranam' itself. That must be the biggest magnum opus of all literature in any language! Rest 17 Puranas take 3 lac granthas. Other than this, Vyasa has also contributed Maha Bharata of one lac granthas, as an Ithihasa as different from Puranas. The Puranas are on many of the Devatas, some Saivam, some Saktam and some Vaishnavam. They are, Brhma Puranam (Braahmam), Padma Puranam (Paadmam), Vishnu Puranam (Vaishnavam), Siva Puranam (Saivam), Bhagavatham, Narada Puranam (Naaradeeyam), Markandeya Puranam, Agni Puranam (Aagneyam), Bhavishya Puranam, Brhma Vaivartha Puranam, Linga Puranam, Varaaha Puranam (Vaaraaham), Skaanda Maha Puranam, Vamana Puranam, Koorma Puranam (Kourmam), Matsya Puranam (Maatsyam), Garuda Puranam (Gaarudam), and Brhmaanda Puranam, totalling 18 in all. Of the 18, 10 are of Siva or connected to Saivam.

39. Many or almost all stories, history, concepts, anecdotes of this religion are somehow related to these Puranas. In the Vishnu Sahasranama Bhashyam, Adi Sankara quotes extensively from the Vishnu Puranam. Vyasa's father Parasarar is said to be the original author for that Purana. In Ramanuja's Siddhantam Vishnu Puranam is an important authority. Before Ramanujachariyar, in Visishtadwaitam was an important Maha Purusha Aalavandar. Before Ramanuja could reach him, he passed away. Aalavandar had intended to hand over to Ramanuja, three important jobs. So when Ramanuja arrived, three fingers of Aalavandar were bent inwards. Ramanuja had to guess the tasks that his senior had intended. Once Ramanujachariyar understood and mentioned them one by one, it seems that the three fingers also opened out one by one, from the dead body's closed fist. One of those orders was that, Ramanujacharyar should write Bhashyam for Brhma Sutra according to the principles of Visishtadwaitam. Second was that, he should write detailed notes for 'Thiruvai Mozhi'. Third was that Ramanujacharya should spread the name and fame of Parasara and Vyasa known far and wide.

(To be continued.)



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