Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 92 (Vol # 3) Dated 26 May 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 92 (Vol # 3) Dated 26 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 410 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.)

21. Some Aacharaa-s themselves are rather lenient and make it easy for the aspirant. Fasting is good for reducing the negative Karma. An empty stomach is good for meditation and the breathing exercises of 'Prana Yama'. But in the temples with the early morning ritual of 'Thiru Palli Ezhutchi', they distribute Akkara Adisil, Puliyodara and Dadiyonnam(curd rice)! As it is prasadam, you do not feel like saying no to it! Then the Gurukkal says, "It is alright. Have this. God knows your mind. Though you do not wish to eat, God knows that you are eating it only because of your wish to abide with your elders' traditions. For that itself He will bless you with concentration when you do meditation! Or alternately take the prasadam now and eat it at home after doing your Prana Yama and Meditation."

22. That you have given up your ancestors' Siddhantam of Adwaitam or Dwaitam or whatever, need not be known to others. That is your inner conviction. By the power of your good actions of the past (i.e., samskaara), or study, or experience, or by God's blessings, you may progress with that inner conviction. Outwardly continue with the Aachara-s as done in the past to which born, so that, you keep cleansing your mind. Do not leave the old Aachaaraa-s and rituals, even when you do not need them any more, for the sake of others who may not be yet so advanced as you are! This is His command in the Gita.

23. Having been born in one sub-division of the religion believing in a particular Siddhantam, following that set of rituals to which born and progressing in some other Siddhantam; is this only a theoretical possibility or practical too? Yes, there have been people like that! There is one Sri. A.V.Gopala Achariyar of the Vaishnava cult. He has done much service to his branch of the religion. He is closely associated with the Ramakrishna Mission. He conducts 'Vidvat Sadas' of Vedic scholars and honours them. He also has deep respect for Sankaracharya and Adwaitam. He continues with the Aachaaraa-s of his Vaishnava background, while also being a follower of Sankara! (KTSV adds:- Periyaval is referring to this gentleman who used to be known as 'Anna'. He was the Principal of the Ramakrishna Mission High School (Main) in T.Nagar, Chennai. I had the opportunity to see him often and listen to his talks, when I was a student of the seventh class in the academic year 1952-53, in the East branch of that school. He has written the Tamil book on Sandyavandanam with translation of the Sanskrit mantra-s.)

24. There are many foreigners of the west who visit here and evince much interest in the teachings of Sankara Acharyal and Adwaita Siddhanta. They happen to continue to be ardent devotees of Jesus Christ and are regular visitors to the church. Conversely it is also true that there are many followers of this Matam, who have a lot of respect for me and our Acharyal; but believe more in the Bhakti Marg of the Dwaita Siddhanta. They tell me, "Whatever you may say, we somehow love being devotees of Ambal than the Adwaita philosophy of unity with God! Even if Ambal Herself gives us Darshan and says that she will absorb us unto her, our reply is likely to be a flat denial. We will tell Her, 'Amma No! We rather love to love You! We want to be your devotees, rather than be absorbed in You!'." The same sentiment has been expressed by an Azhwar devotee of Vishnu who says, "...ichchuvai tavira yaam poi indira lokam aalum achchuvai perinum vendane arangamaa nagarulaane...". That means, 'we would not like to give up this pleasure of loving you, even if we were to be offered the Kingdom of the Heavens in lieu!' So, the point is very clear that, the Aachaaraa-s of this religion do not become an obstacle for the inner convictions of Siddhanta, what ever it may happen to be, either born to or later acquired!

25. There is another question to which I have to give the answer. Till now I have been talking about 'tatvam' apart from any particular obeisance to any particular God or Deity. (The word 'tatvam' literally means 'tat = that + tvam = you'. This word in usage has come to mean 'philosophy or the deeper meaning'.) In our religion the philosophical concepts and procedural directions are inseparably mixed. If some one has to abide only with the traditions of his family and have some other inner theoretical concepts in which one firmly believes in; there could be a conflict of interests and aachaara! The problem becomes multi dimensional when one is confronted with the idea of 'Ishta Devata' of exclusive devotion for only Siva or Narayana or Anjaneya and so on.

26. Visishtadwaitin does not stop at the philosophical stand point of, 'one Paramatma as the indwelling spirit in all Jeevatma', he goes on to identify that one Paramatma as Vishnu with so many arms, such and such description and details of how his Pooja is to be done. Saiva Siddhantists go on to an exact copy of a similar stand point of view, with Siva as the exclusive, indwelling Paramatma! If you have to do continuous decorations for Vishnu(alankaara priya:), you have to do endless bathing with anointed waters for Siva(abhisheka priya:)! Though the Adwaitin says that God can be adored in all forms and the formless, in such Smarta families, for generations there have been 'Siva Pooja or Saligrama Pooja of Vishnu or Sakti Pooja of Sri Vidya Upasana'!

27. The problem does become multi dimensional under this situation. Which Siddhantam / Aachaaram / Ishta Devata Pooja; to continue and which one to give up? If my mind tells me to worship Siva, and my forefathers have been Vaishnavite Vishnu Bhakta-s, what should I do? If I tell him, "Do all your Karma as per Saastraa-s as per your family traditions. Then also do pooja for your Ishta Devata. When it comes to Gnaana, believe in whatever Siddhantam your inner conscience approves", I will be sounding at odds with myself repeatedly, depending on the back ground of each individual!

28. I am myself in a quandary when even in the most common Nitya Karma Anushtana like Sandya Vandanam there are variations! In the sankalpa, when it says, 'Parameswara Preetyartam', since the word Parameswara reminds us of Siva, some people say, 'Bhagawat Preetyartam'! Say if someone is born in a Saivite family, but wishes to become a Vishnu devotee, he will feel happy only if he applies the Namam while chanting 'Keshava, Narayana, Madhava...' and so on. To do as per family aachaara, he has to apply only vibhuti, while applying which he has to say, 'Om Namah Sivaya'. There are crisis of conscience galore!

29. Should I say that I take back all my words? Can I tell you all to forget about old aachaara-s, believe in a God and to him you pray in some way! I can not say that either! When the whole lot of people are ready to break free of all rules, restrictions and regulations, if I put up my hands now, I will committing an unpardonable sin of opening the flood gates as though! Some may be sincerely trying to find a via media between their Aachaara-s, Ishta Devata Pooja and their inner convictions of Siddhanta! For others it will be license to indiscipline. So I am tempted to go by what Sri Krishna Paramatma Himself said in the Gita, that we should never give up the 'Kula Aachaara' that is, the family traditions!

(To be continued.)




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