Sunday, September 14, 2008

Deivathin Kural # 96 of (Vol 2) of 16 Mar 2008.

Om Namah Sivaya.

Deivathin Kural # 96 of (Vol 2) of 16 Mar 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 # 95 of (Vol 2) of 14 Mar 2008, after para 122. I am at page 749 of the volume 2. Periyaval is talking about this in 1962.)

To Protect Our Tradition is Our Foremost Duty.

123. (KTSV Adds:- I was talking about how everywhere else, they are creating the Sthala Puranas, with some facts and much imagination, on glossy Art Paper, with beautiful photographs, containing information about, Traditional History, Present Industries that would be of interest to visitors, Hotels, Restuarants, Scenic Spots, Arts and Crafts and Route Maps, and making them available in abundance. In our country, we are still blind to the immence potential value of our own past. We could make use of our past suitably for the benefit of tourists, while simultaneously protecting traditional value systems! On the subject of 'Ramalingam'. There is a place known as Keesar Gutta, some 40 K.M. out of Hyderabad, towards North. The area is semi mountaneous. Keesar Gutta is a hillock, with a road right up to the top. There is a Siva temple at the summit. The God is known as 'Ramalingam'. As the story goes, Hanuman was asked to fetch some Sivalingam from some where in North India. He went there. He did not know as to which particular one was wanted. He collected a whole lot of them and was on the move towards the South. It is claimed that he saw from the skys that, installation of Ramalingam was already over. Realising that it was futile to carry the Sivalingams any more, he just dropped them and flew off. The hill feature is littered with a scattering of Sivalingams, embedded on the surface, in all sorts of angles, as though some child has thrown the toys on the ground! The only difference is that, each Sivalingam may weigh upwards of two tonnes. More about it after another visit there!)

124. The Temples and the activities centered around the Temples, such as daily rituals and periodic festivals, are the things that have provided the strength of character to our Religion and Indian Culture, to withstand the rigours of time, for thousands of years, despite all types of counter pressures. Each Temple has a story of its own, as to how and why it came into being. Each festival has a reason why it is being conducted. It is a rich tradition of sense, logic and humaneness; that have come down to us through the centuries, which we can ignore only at our own peril! Though our modernization may be new and novel for us, it is our Past that has to be preserved and put on display! Not only for the sake of the visiting tourists; for our own sake too, we have to preserve and practice, our ancient value systems. From the times when there were no printing press, these Puranas have come to us, by word of mouth and as Palm Leaf Manuscripts. For the sake of generations to come, it is our inalienable duty to preserve, propogate and publicise; these Puranas! That alone will enable us to progress in the ever changing modern world, without losing sight of our Past Cultural and Moral Values, which we can continue to be proud of and continue to practice!

125. Palm Leaf Manuscripts and Libraries. In olden times, every household used to have plenty of palm leaf manuscripts, containing hand written copies of the Vedas and Puranas. When old copies went bad, new copies used to be made, by using what is known as 'Ezhuttu Aani' or 'Writing Nail'. For writing, the palm leaf used to be held against a hard surface and each letter had to be etched on its surface. The art of writing on palm leaf had reached such sophistication that, invariably it was accompanied by colourful art work and scenes being depicted in drawings with colour too. The old copies used to be collectively disposed off in the oceon or the river when it was in spate. On the 18th of the month of 'Aadi', there used to be a flood in the river Kaveri. This disposal of old copies of manuscript in the River, came to be known as, 'Aadi Kazhippu', which is being exploited by various retailers now-a-days as, 'Clearance Sales'!

126. What was handed over from generation to generation, with great effort and perseverance like this, till as late as our grand parent's time, has now been got rid off in 'Aadi Kazhippu' wholesale, without back-up copies being made! So, many Puranas have been lost for ever. Not only Puranas, but also other Sastra scripts! What ever could be salvaged and saved have been collected with great difficulty, in places like, Tanjore Saraswati Mahal Library, Madras Oriental Manuscripts Library and in Adayar Library of the Theosophical Society. U.V.Swaminatha Ayyar, known as Thamizh Thatha's contribution in this effort is really taken note of with gratitude. Saraboji Maharaja's drive in this direction in Saraswati Mahal Library, Tanjore are also laudatory, for the stupendous efforts put in over a long period!

127. 'Aedu' is the term indicating two leaves of the palm leaf, with a long nerve like thing connecting the two leaves. This long nerve portion is removed. So in 'Aettu Suvadi', what we have is only the rectangular flat surface on which the writing used to be done. A paper made by nature, which used to last anywhere upto a few decades. Each Script may run into many pages in which possibly four to six lines could be inscribed. Each book then was tied with threads and folded in a cloth. This would normally be kept in 'Puja Room' as any writing was Goddess Saraswathy Devi in practical terms! Their greatest threat was from 'the white ants'. Some time back, I had told you as to how, Thiru Gnana Sambandar's 'Thevara Aedu' leaves swam against the current in the Vaigai River in Madurai, in Pandiya Nadu. That place still carries the name of 'Thiru + Aedu + Agam = Thiruvedagam' and the Siva in the Temple there is known as, 'Patrikaa Parameswaran'. (Of course it is sad that there is no water in the Vaigai river!) This word 'Patrika' is evolved from the fact that, all the writing in the old days used to be done on these Palm Leaves only and Patrika means Leaves! That is why letters by post carried the name of 'Patram'. I am reminded about an intersting anecdote about 'Saraswati Mahal'.

128. In the olden times, when armies invaded and overran other countries, to destroy the enemy's libraries was a priced objective. Like destroying the economy of the other country, the library was a sort of a cultural treasury. Since there were no 'printing press' those days, many copies of the intellectual treasures may not have been available! So to destroy the libraries was even a higher target for vandalism, than destruction of Temples and assault on women! Thank God, that we can proudly claim that we in India never had such ambitions in our scheme of statesmanship! Actually when the opposition led by Amarasimhan of Jainism, on losing to our religious leaders, voluntarily came forward to destroy their 'palm leafs' by burning, we have gone forward to physically hold their hands in supplication, to prevent such destruction from taking place! (KTSV adds:- So, the destruction of Babri Masjid was an aberration of Hindu ethos. Actually I would have preferred that, Babri Masjid should have been permitted to remain as a mute witness to the fact of destruction of a Hindu Temple, earlier! In human relations, two wrongs do not make a right!)

129. But, for people of other countries and cultures, while invading other Nations, to burn the Libraries is a fireworks display of pyrotechnics! The wealth of knowledge is a common property of humanity. Now-a-days they are pirated and burnt on CDs; while in the past they were simply burnt! It has happened in Egypt in Alexandria and Istanbul in Turkey. We are said to have lost much of, 'Old Sangha Kala' literature to Tsunami like tidal waves of the ocean. May be that was one of the end of Kalpa pralaya. But I was going to tell you about what happened in Tanjore Saraswati Mahal Library. There was a time when the Karnataka Nawab's power was on the ascendant. They were on a rampage and it was feared that the Saraswati Mahal Library was about to be burnt! There was a Maharashtrian Brahmin by the name of Tabir Pant, who was a Minister to the King of Tanjore. He had a brilliant brain wave. He told the invaders that the Library contained rare copies of Quran. The invaders did a quick 'Namaz' like bending of the knees in the direction of the Library and disappeared from the scene!

130. Then came the French and Britishers. They had a much more inquisitive attitude. Instead of burning and destroying, they will look for opportunities to favourably exploit! Germans did research in to the Language and Culture and gave us some insights into our own scriptures, for which we should be greatful to them. One Mr.McIncy, when he was the Surveyor General in these parts, (though it was of no concern of his department, which was meant to survey lands and make revenue records), did a wonderful job of organising, maintaining, recording and preserving; these palm leaf manuscripts! I am told that, from the Saraswati Mahal material, the Germans took away much of Science material, especially in Dhanur Vedam, from which Hitler was able to make planes and V2 missiles!

131. Whatever it may be, Bhoja Raha's Samarangana Suthram and such, do indicate that we had not only Weapons and Missiles powered by Mantras, but we did have such scientific capabilities too. As I said earlier, Varaha Mihira's Brihad Samhitai was a Science Digest, covering many areas. We do have Palm Leaf Manuscripts on Dhanur Veda, Ayur Veda, Vedas, Puranas and so on. Even now there is much scope for Search, Collection, Preservation, Research and Analysis, on this subject!

End of the Series of E-mails on Puranam.

132. Vedam tells us of Paramatma Tatva, which cannot be put in to words, but has to be experienced. In preparation, each individual has to go through the process of self refinement of 'Chitta Suddhi', attitudinal ennoblement and behavioural discipline. More than anything else, it is the Puranas, Upa-Puranas and Stala Puranas, which have collectively guided the consciousness of every individual of this country for thousands of years, to say the least! Their 'Upadesa' has the power of suggestion and goes to the heart, instead of being sensational! We must change our attitude towards them, from benign ignorance to active involvement, to treasure them as endowments for the future. Let us benefit by research, study, and dissemination of the Puranas and share the benefits with the whole world!



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