Saturday, September 27, 2008

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 99 (of Vol 2) dt 09 April 2008

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 99 (of Vol 2) dt 09 April 2008

(Continued from Deivathin Kural # 98 (of Vol 2) dt 01 April 2008.)

14. ‘Vaidyanatha Deekchideeyam’, is the book of authority in Dharma Sastra, as far as Tamil Nadu is concerned. With rudimentary knowledge of Sanskrit, one can understand this book. Some people do Veda Adyayanam but, do not understand the meaning of many mantras. Reading this book is not difficult like that. In fact, this book has been printed with Sanskrit original mantras with transliteration and translation in Tamil. The name of the book is due to the author’s name. Actually he had named it, “Smruthi Muktapala Nibandana Grantham”. Very little is known about this great man. He must have lived some 250 years back. He is from Kandira Manikka Gotram of a village near ‘Nachiyar Koil’. Not only did he author the book but, lived a life of practicing all the Karmas and Yagnas.

15. On comparing with other books of Dharma Nibandana by authors such as Kasinatha Bhatta and Hemadri, Vaidyanatha Deekchideeyam stands high due to it’s exhaustiveness covering all the aspects of Varna Dharma(bindings on the four castes of Brahmins, Kchatriyas, Vaishyas and Sudras); Ashrama Dharma(as binding on youth before and on assuming Brhma charyam, on house holders, on Sanyasis); Aasoucham(covering various restrictions on behavior and diet); Srardham(towards departed souls); Prayaschittam( as atonement for errors of omission and commission); Stri Dharmam(binding on women on various occasions); Daayabagam(on duties towards ones relatives); Dravya Suddhi( on the need to keep the materials used on such occasions at the required level of cleanliness) , not leaving any aspect uncovered.

16. Dharma Sastram even defines as to how and in what proportion the ancestral property should be distributed. When in Independent India, they enacted the Hindu Code Bill, some people argued that the properties should be endowed based on this ‘Daayabagam’ principle. ‘Marumakkat Dayam’, is the principle by which the properties go from the elder to his / her nephew, as prevalent in Kerala. Deetchideeyam being the last of the Nibandana Granthas, it has been evolved after due consideration of all such treatises preceding it. The book that was in much usage immediately prior to Deektchideeyam was the one written by Thozhappar. After Deektchideeyam, Saivaites and Vaishnavites have taken on to it uniformly as the authority in Dharma Sastras. To write a Nibandana Grantham in a manner acceptable to all varieties of Hindus is a difficult job. Though ‘Hindu’ is a collective name for a whole lot of people, they have always been made up of an enormous mass of disparate entities who do not see eye to eye on many issues. Deektchidar has used the Meemamsa Sastra’s ‘Artha Nirnaya’ methods, to arrive at a uniform code from an absolutely unbiased perspective. Wherever there was an apparent conflict of an irresolvable nature, he would leave it to ‘local family traditions’.

17. Freedom and Discipline. Here I am constrained to make an observation. However much vast and deep the research and analysis, in a world of expanding and increasing complexity, every aspect of human life cannot be pre-codified. To decide in words like an act of law, though preferable is not feasible. Our Sastras do contain many areas of apparent conflict. In the name of Independence and Democracy, we do see in practice much lip-service being done. Poor and physically weak but good people being lorded over by powerful ruffians. Somehow over a period of time people learn as to how to overcome the checks and balances in any system. Draconian application of rules and regulations is not the answer. There should be a limit in such controls too, so as not to make life too monotonous.

18. So in our Sastras, instead of making everything strictly as per rules and regulations, many things were left to be done by emulating elders. That becomes binding on the seniors too, to keep up their behavior, so as not to mislead the youngsters. If you take me as a role model, you voluntarily try and do the things that I do; such as applying ‘Vibhuti’ on the forehead, do Puja, fast on certain days, be soft spoken, and so on. Thus some of these things were left unsaid to be followed by personal example, tradition and local customs. So, instead of the likelihood of rebelling against compulsory enforcement, much was achieved by the power of suggestion.

19. To motivate others towards desirable behavior by personal example is the ideal method. Then by word of mouth recommend good acceptable behavior without compulsions is the second best. The last option is to enforce discipline by written rules and regulations. There is a saying, “…sahasram vada; ekam maa likha…”, meaning, ‘you may say many things by word of mouth, but do not resort to writing even one’. But, now-a-days for anything and everything there are written laws. And we are told that, ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse!’ So whosoever can wield a pen in his hand or rather tap the key-board, gets them published now-a-days, resulting in what is known as the ‘tyranny of the printed word!”

20. The criticism leveled against the Hindu Religion these days is that, ‘not leaving any independence, these Dharma Sastras hold the follower in shackles. Contrary to this, in actual fact, having put some in ‘black and white’, much was left for personal example, traditions and regional and local customs. You might have often heard, “that is how it is done, in our village or amongst our relations!” (KTSV adds :- A guest in our homes, villages and for that matter, in the whole country is welcome at all times. Many of us may not have read the dictum, “…atiti devo bhava…”. But we have all seen our elders behave as though the guest is a God in human form. That made all the difference between the behavior of the common man in Bombay and New-Orleans, when under the grip of natural calamities simultaneously, about a year back!)

21. I do not mean to say that Vaidyanatha Deektchideeyam is the only book which had such liberal outlook. For example, ‘Aapasthamba Suthram’ which is like an authoritative book of reference, ends by saying, ‘there are some things not covered on this book. For those things, please refer to Women Folk and people of the Fourth Varna.’ This is clear proof of the fact, that the accusation that Brahmins dominated and subjugated the non-brahmins is totally fallacious. This is also indicative of the respect that the society had for the opinion of the fair sex.

(To be continued.)



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