Friday, May 22, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 90 (Vol # 3) Dated 21 May 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 90 (Vol # 3) Dated 21 May 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 399 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 http://advaitham. blogspot. com constantly updated.)

The Sub Divisions of the Religion

1. In the previous lecture, I had mentioned a sloka which talked of '...sikhaam pundram, soothram...'. These three aachara-s of keeping long hair at the peak of the head, wearing the Naamam or the sacred thread, as part of the outer signs worn by a Hindu of any one of the inner sub-divisions within the Hindu Sanatana Dharma. Those born in whichever sub-division should follow the traditions as applicable to that sub-division, is what is being conveyed.

2. Then a question arises. Hindu religion is a Veda Matam (Matam meaning Religion). It's first basis is what is called the 'Sruti' that is, another name for the Veda-s. Veda-s were never written but only heard and learnt. That is why the name 'Sruti' came into being to mean, 'what is heard'. The next basis is what is known as ‘Smruti’ or ‘remembered’! These are also based on Veda-s only as short notes, hints, explanations and some direct and some indirect indications of inner meanings. So, for the Hindu Religion, Veda-s are like the life breath. Thus the various sub-divisions of the Hindu Religion are all based on the differences in the interpretation of what is said in the Veda-s.

3. Within that there are many variations. One decides on Dwaitam. Another says Adwaitam. Still others say, Visishtadwaitam, Suddhadwaitam, Dwaitaadwaitam and so on. One says that all the Deities in the Vedic Matam are all one Paramatma in various forms. Another claims that Vishnu is the supreme God and all others his appointed staff only. The same position is given to Siva by Saiva Siddhantists. They all claim that their belief is validated by the Veda-s. So all the other names such as, Vaishnavam, Saivam etc., are all only sub-titles and Veda Matam is the main title, they claim! Here is where that question arises.

4. When does a man become befallen? Is it something wrong to shift to and fro within the Vedic religion or not? Sloka talks of 'sikhaam, pundram, soothram...', then of 'samaya aachaaram' and then warns that if we do not follow the traditions of the ancestors, we will become, 'patitan'! What does this mean? Are we free to change within the customs and traditions of the sub-divisions of Hindu religion or not? Or does it mean that we are only being warned about changing from Hinduism to other religions such as Christianity, Muslim and so on? What is the argument?

5. The argument is on the following lines. The word 'mada-antara' means, all those religions which do not have Veda-s as the basic document. Bible, Quran, Tripitakam, Zend Avesta and Guru Granth Sahib are the documents which form the basis for, Christianity, Muslim, Buddhism, Parsi and Sikh religions respectively. So, it is wrong to shift to one of these religions which do not have Veda-s as the basic scripture. OK agreed. But, what is wrong in shifting within what is Hindu religion? What was the condition before these sub-divisions came into being? You have said yourself that Hindu Religion at some stage has accommodated all varying and opposing view points and interpretations. Even before the creation of divisions of Adwaitam, Dwaitam, Saaktam, Koumaaram, Vaishnavam, Saivam and so on as separate traditions; the Hindu at whatever stage of development or maturity he was in, was a devotee of Vishnu or Siva or Kumara!

6. On the aspect of principles he either believed in the eventual oneness of all as an Adwaitin or that Jeevatma and Paramatma can never ever be one as a Dwaitin. Whether you look at Sruti or Smruti, there is no one common platform. There is no conclusive principle or concept. So depending on individual conviction everyone had their own Ishta Devata and procedure for its deification and veneration. So the commonness was unity in diversity. The unifying idea were the Dharma Saastraa-s which were followed similarly. In the same family you could find one Siva Bhakta and another a follower of Vishnu. There was no difference between them when it came to observing the Nitya Karma Anushtaanaa-s of Sandyavandanam and Pancha Maha Yagna-s, and the forty Samakaraa-s over ones life time!

7. If Sankara spent his entire life time in bringing the unity between the six different traditions of Saivam Saktam, Ganapatyam, Koumaram, Vaishnavam and Souram; and oneness between the three paths of Karma - Bhakti - Gnaana, this was immediately followed by the differing Siddhanta-s of Ramanujacharya and Madhva. So the question can be put into these words now. Can a person who has been born in Saivite family, become a devotee of Vishnu or not? After all these differences became more clearly defined only after Ramanujacharya and Madhva. Before that was there not the freedom to follow ones own path, as long as he remained within the parameters of Sruti and Smruti? How can doing something slightly different from Kula Dharma be such an objectionable sin as long as one's conscience permits that?

8. The question extends further. They counter me with my own earlier statements.
Sankaracharya himself did not think of his followers as a new division of the Hindu religion. As observers of Sruti and Smruti, they are 'Srouti-s' and 'Smarta-s'. Sankaracharya's followers did not opt to call themselves by any new name! Later Sri Ramanujacharyar's followers were known as Sri Vaishnava-s and Sri Madhva's followers were known as 'Maadhvaa-s'. Whereas the followers of Sri Sankara were known by the common name as applicable to all Hindu-s as the followers of Dharma Saastraa-s. He re-established and re-united the traditions that were already existing before his time. He only cleared some of the misconceptions of his time as people were overly becoming slaves of the Karma Kaanda per se!

9. It is the Acharya-s who came after Sri Sankara, who gave their traditions some new names and while following the already existing traditions of the Hindu religion, added some new Aachara-s such as, 'Sama Aasrayanam' and 'Mudra Dharanam'. Slightly lessening the importance of 'srouta' and 'smarta' karma-s, they gave some additional importance to some of the Purana-s. Some changes were introduced in wearing of signs in the body. With this information that I have conveyed, people ask me the question that, "when the later Acharya-s have introduced changes in the traditions, remaining as a Hindu, why should I not switch over to other traditions?" So goes the argument.

10. Though the question seems to be pertinent, I am to interpret the Saastraa-s as they are. Having advised you all to follow your own ancestors, I should not deviate from what ancestors have opined! So I insist that each man should follow the customs and traditions to which he is born. If we are to believe in the Saastraa-s, then there is no scope for arguments. Belief and faith are not open to intellectual gymnastics.

(To be continued.)




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