Monday, March 02, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 60 (Vol # 3) Dated 02 Mar 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 60 (Vol # 3) Dated 02 Mar 2009
(These e-mails are translations of talks given by Periyaval of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. To day we are proceeding from page 264 of Vol 3 of the Tamil original. The readers are reminded that herein 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too, mostly. These e-mails are all available at constantly updated.)
Self Help is the Best
1. To day I was exposed to two types of opinions on the same subject. One was praising me for the wrong reasons and the other criticizing me for the wrong reasons once again! Being criticized is better than being praised, in my opinion, as there is always some scope for improvement. Being praised on the other hand could lead to pride, which should always be guarded against. The one who points out our mistakes is thus more preferable. So, I got 'stotra upachara' and 'kandana maha upachara', thus. ( Reference to the context. This talk is dated sometime in the second half of 1976. His talks on Paropakaaram [covered in the last 43 e-mails], had been given much earlier than 1976. They were being published in the Tamil Kalki weekly magazine.)
2. What I had spoken about at various places, some time in the distant past, are being published in some magazines these days. Thinking that I am writing something new, one gentleman praised me for those write ups! Lest I may get head weight because of that praise, a husband and wife couple visited me immediately after that, as though sent by Ambal herself for that purpose, and gave me a very different point of view on the same subject. In a way I should say that they gave me a respectable dressing-down! Without any agitation, without ever crossing the limits of decency, they reprimanded me nicely. When they should have been angry, they were sorrowful. I should take their words as scolding only, so that I may take it in the right perspective and do some self analysis.
3. What was their objection to my comments on social service? Seemingly I have over emphasized Social Service to the extent that I am encouraging people to ignore and relegate their responsibilities towards their own self and their families! This was their objection. I do not know as to whether the press is reporting exactly what I said. I never ever considered that individual personal Karma Anushtana-s should go by default. I never recommended that Paropakaaram should result in not doing ones duty towards oneself and ones family! Neither will I do so ever.
4. May be while speaking on the subject, I might have over stressed the need for social service that I might have overlooked the possibility of such miss-understanding! That one should take care of ones own self and family, physically, financially is a natural requirement. Otherwise he himself will need Paropakaaram from others! We as Sankara Acharya Peeta-s and Mata-s, are mainly to plan and work for the welfare of the whole society. Hence I might have stressed the social service aspect. Since that husband and wife couple literally cried their hearts out, I have to emphasize the obvious need for individual, personal duties and its place of primary importance in our religion.
5. But this does not mean that we consider the individual and family to be of any less importance whatsoever. I have repeatedly said and emphasized that - the Hindu religion specifically addresses individual cleansing as of primordial importance. When a mistaken criticism is leveled against it that it is lacking in social awareness and spirit, in defense we do not have to explain as to how we are not ignoring the social aspect.
6. For our religion, the individual is more important than the society. If everyone 'religiously' does his duty, there would be no need for social service at all! It is only by the individual effort of self improvement and ennoblement that is of extreme importance to our religion. It is this strength and power of the individual, that has sustained this religion for thousands or lacs or even crores of years before any other religion could ever come to be known by such a nomenclature. It is this power that could sustain itself against the virtual onslaught of hordes of other religions and beliefs. Not only withstand the onslaught but share, adjust, absorb and accommodate, differing view points and dogmas. It is this power that continues to make Hinduism a vibrant, flourishing and effective movement till date.
7. It is my opinion that Hindu Dharma's critical interest area is the individual's disciplined life towards self improvement and ennoblement; for Christians it is Paropakaaram; and for Muslims it is control and discipline. Relatively speaking this Hindu religion is less organized. It lives and thrives on individual effort and attainment.
8. Buddha emphasized the importance of collective effort with a cry for "sangam charanam gachchami". Christianity too lays stress on conduct of 'mass' and 'congregation' for collective prayers. In Islam there is a high level of organizational control with systematic rules and regulations! They have ensured that their people are closely knit and remain attached religiously with structured restrictions and taboos. Thus all religions other than Hinduism are based on social cohesion and joint effort.
9. Meditation by individuals is there in all religions to some extent. In Buddhism especially, meditation has a very important role. However other than collective prayers and congregations for prayers, individual systematic personal efforts towards self realization is unique to the Hinduism. This includes the process of Iyama (control), Niyama (regular practice), Asana (physical exercise positions), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (taboos and restrictions on food and behaviour), Dharana (decision), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (total merging), known as Ashta Anga Yoga, which is special to Hinduism. The system of different combinations of Bakti, Gnana, Kriya and Raja Yoga, directly related to different preponderance of the Rajas, Tamas and Sattva Gunas; necessitates that there are not one common approach for all but customized approaches for each individual.
10. So the individual duties or what is known as 'swa dharma' varies according to the 'varna' (that is, brahmin/kshatrya/vysya/sudra) and 'ashrama' (that is, brhmacharya/gruhasta/vanaprasta/sanyasa). This is the major difference between this and other religions! Other religions have a uniform code of conduct for all. We have both the uniform code of conduct known as 'saamaanya dharma' common for all and specific customized duties for each based on 'varna and ashrama'.
11. You may raise a query that as others have collective prayers in Church, Gurudwara and Mosque, are we not also having Utsava-s, i.e., celebrations on special occasions? Answer to this question is that like their Mass and Namaz, we do not have collective prayers at all! Though the Temples have contributed in nurturing and protecting the tradition and civilization based on this Hindu religion, as the back bone does for the body, God's Grace and Blessings we get from the temples is to be assimilated and absorbed through individual observance of our appointed duties, roles and codes.
(To be continued.)


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