Monday, August 31, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 122 (Vol #3) Dated 31 August 2009.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 122 (Vol #3) Dated 31 August 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 the 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 536 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.)

241. Thus when the children are initiated in to the ideas of early morning bath, madi, adhyayanam, learning the sloka-s in Tamil and Sanskrit, singing of Bhajan songs and visit to temples, automatically bad habits will remain at arm's length. When you tell them, "do not go here or do not do this or do not eat such and such", the general tendency is to do the forbidden! Once you start the child in good Aachaaraa-s, bad habits will be avoided. Even if they show a tendency to go astray, others already deeply mired in such habits are likely to tell him nudgingly to get back. Discipline has to be inculcated by rote and not by instructions!

242. What we said about children is equally applicable to grown ups too! They should also stop going about to tennis court, billiards room, bar, cinema, bridge and rummy. Instead they should make an effort to learn about the Veda-s, Saastraa-s and Purana-s and practice the Aachaaraa-s as far as possible. At the least after retirement from service, instead of looking for extension, re-employment and starting ones own business, they should start living strictly by the Saastraa-s and Aachaaraa-s, so as to find one's real moorings, as well as be a role model for others!

243. We should not be afraid that living by the Saastraa-s would mean too much of discipline and control. Claiming ourselves to be in a world of Freedom and Free-will, cutting off all our moorings, what have we achieved? Like the occasional bright spots under a tree whose leaves are not letting the sun's rays through; under eternal pressure of unknown fears and risks of a variety of possible diseases and expenditure, we experience flashes of thrill and cheap pleasure, by this so called freedom of ours. This freedom, scientific discoveries and material advancement, have not been able to take us any closer to the real peace or bliss. Do these freedom and scientific discoveries have the power to identify the reasons and cause for sorrow in this world? They do not go to the core of the problem but, only keep increasing the disparities and emphasizing the greed for more! Can they undo the damages that they are creating on this earth, in the atmosphere, in the outer environment and more so in the inner world of ours?

244. Now let us look back to our elders. They could cut down on their sins, lessen the sorrows and increase the wholesomeness and contentedness of their lives, by following the behavioural patterns i.e., aachaaraa-s that they evolved! We can say with certainty that our fore fathers, in this country, lived a life of plenty, satisfaction and bliss of artistic, altruistic and cultural achievements. More than the greatness of monuments, it is their achievements in the fields of arts, fine-arts, literature, dance, drama and especially philosophy, that bears out the truth of my statement. More than all, it is the message of universal love borne out by the Veda-s, Sruti-s and Smruti-s, that sets this Sanatana Dharma of Hinduism apart! If you mull over this deeply, you will realize that, this freedom of thought, speech and action are actually the binding factors that prevent us from moving towards real freedom and keeps us tied down in sins and sorrows!

245. Similarly, the Saastraa-s which seemed to be very restrictive, in reality are the gateways for the Heaven! They are restrictions paving the way for real independence. There used to be some Gipsy artists called, 'thombak koothaadi'! 'Sthambam' in Sanskrit is a pillar. This man used to be tied with many ropes with many knots. They will cover him with a screen for a Ssplit second. With in that he will be rid of his binding ropes and will be seen to be free! Not only that, within another split second, he will be seen to be tied again to another pillar with all the knots!

246. He knew such a trick. First time when he is tied, he will keep his body, hands and legs in an expanded posture. The moment the screen is on, he will shrink his body, to let all the ropes fall to the ground. The process is reversed for the second part of the show. As the knots loosen when the body is shrunk, by shrinking our huge Ego, all the binding ties of life are loosened. Saastraa-s tie us up from above. As we mature in self discipline, these ties will be seen to be enabling us to shrink our Egos. It is our 'ahankaaraa'/arrogance/conceit(expanded posture), that is the cause for binding knots. The Aachaaraa-s are the tightening ropes over them, enabling us to loosen the inner Ego(shrunk posture)! Then all the ties will be apparently no more binding and we will be really free of all the ties! That is the 'atma swatantram' i.e., real inner freedom!

247. Call it the Path of Karma or Bhakti or Gnaana or Yoga, all the approaches are meant to control this mind of ours and take us to 'mano naasa:', that is, mindlessness! So what ever the restrictions by any of the approaches, have to be done strictly as per the Saastraa-s. Not only Pooja-s and other ceremonial procedures, starting from brushing the teeth and bathing in the morning, to going to sleep in the night, if all our activities are as per the Saastraa-s, by the dint of rote, the mind will be annulled to surrender. Instead of going astray while being unaware of it, we will come to the right path, equally unaware of mastering the mind, in the process.

248. Aachaaraa-s help in thrift, is a point that comes up here again. All our unnecessary expenses are due to catering for the multi various small and big desires of the mind. The taste buds on the tongue are the rogues, which inspire you to eat all sorts of things. If that was one sense, think of what can be the effect when all the five senses are pulling us in all directions, for more and more exotic sights, smells, sounds, taste and touch! So, to satisfy those desires, we get ready to take up any profession, role or work, in any place, in this country or anywhere, however much it may be against the observance of the Aacharaa-s. How does it matter whether you are working under the fisheries department in India or under Kentucky Fried Chicken in US of A? "Oh God, it is not correct for us to be eating this; it is a sin to be doing this". With such thoughts, if we look in to the Saastraa-s and cut down on the desires of the mind, we will automatically cut down on our expenses. Within the locality, we will lead a life of absolute simplicity. The mind relieved of all its pre-varications, would be able to concentrate on more important and more nobler pursuits. When unnecessary wasteful expenditure of time and resources are cut, that would enable us to spend all the time in 'Atma Vichara'! For variety and variation, one could always visit places of religious merit. When we visit such places with other devotees, that will give us greater pleasures than any other type of entertainment. Bhajans, Hirakata Kalatshepam and Utsava-s in Temples and such activities will certainly give qualitatively far superior pleasure and satisfaction than all the cinemas and clubs!

(To be continued.)



Saturday, August 29, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 121 (Vol #3) Dated 27 August 2009.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 121 (Vol #3) Dated 27 August 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 the 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 533 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.)

231. Now-a-days it has become the custom in South India to calll only those brahmins who do the Karya-s for others and take Dakshina in return as 'Vaidika-s'. This is a misnomer and an aberration. First of all, brahmins also have to earn in some way to cater for the creature comforts of themself and their families. That is their profession as well as livelihood. Other brahmins have come to adopt other professions. There are brahmins in the Army, Air Force, Navy and the Police; as well as in all walks of life. They do a reduced set of aachaaraa-s, as per their whims and fancies. So they cannot expect to be treated as deserving the respect and veneration due to their caste, which essentially comes of the brilliance and radiance that accrues by years of sincere 'Tapasya' of ascetic observance of the aachaaraa-s!

232. Those who are doing it as a profession, are not likely to be very sincere in the observance of the aachaaraa-s and so may not be able to bring forth perfection in their actions or evoke and command the respect from others. They are generally at the bad end of the butt of less than fair jokes! They get paid reluctantly and that too, less than even the waiter in clubs and hotels! When there are other jobs available, some opt for this not so very respectable job. We should be thankful to them that, they accept whatever Dakshina they get, and still contribute to the survival of Veda-s in this ambient atmosphere of aridity and disrespect!
233. Still, whatever the profession, when it is not being done with an innate keenness and avidity, it looses its charm and life! So when the Saastri or Vaadyaar are the only people noticeable as Vaidikaa-s, they do not command the respect due normally. Not all of them may be simply money minded. There are people in that profession too, some who are easily able to evoke a sense of respect from the community, by their brilliance and brightness that comes of their sincerity of purpose and application, in the practice of the Aachaaraa-s! But the fact still remains that the very word 'Vaidika', leads to an inferiority complex. That is because you see them only on rare occasions, when they come and do some thing whose value is not seen or known by the society and they get paid for it reluctantly with evident disrespect, but still accepted! It is like throwing bones to the dogs!

234. So, instead of being done as a profession for earning an income, we should all be living our life as per the Veda-s, following the Saastraa-s for the sake of their intrinsic value and the Aachaaraa-s in them observed for their innate purpose! We should all be doing that, not for any other ulterior motive. When that happens, all of us would be living life as per the Veda-s and we could all be considered as Vaidikaa-s! Simply abide with the Saastraa-s, not for Upaadyaayam, not for Purohitam or any other purpose. Those purposes will also be automatically be served.

235. Then that will be real. Then the power that fetched a position of eminence to India in all walks of life will become apparent once again! That power can speak once again. The entire lot of people of this country would be followers of the 'Sadh Aachaaraa-s', i.e., Good Conduct! In that the particular caste meant to sustain and propagate the Veda-s, will all be Vaidik-s. Then all the causes for feelings of upper / lower; jealousy and hate; will all vanish. Then and only then will there be real and true integration within the country.

236. To day, in the name of integration, in the name of up-lifting the downtrodden; what is happening is actually exploitation by differentiation. Real integration can come only from a sense of unity sans hate and jealousy. That can happen only by a clear decision on our part to pull together with all our might, towards one direction, with discipline. Otherwise, it will remain only a play of words by politicians for amassing the votes, to sustain themselves in power, so as to benefit themselves temporarily at, permanent loss to the entire social fabric!

237. I can foresee your likely reactions to my saying this. "How can everyone become a Vaidik, especially when considering the way the world is moving now! What is the use of talking about things completely impossible?" If you ask me like that, let me tell you something feasible and possible. But what I am going to tell you now, should be put into practice immediately.

238. There are some people presently called Vaidik, who are standing apart from the society. They are made to feel isolated by others on the one hand and on the other are feeling inferiority complex! I am interested in changing that state of affairs. Yes I agree that You cannot give up your school and college education. You cannot give up your company / office / businesses / trades /professions, as long as it is not skullduggery! Let them do their own thing. But let them spend an hour together as a family, everyday in the morning or evening in prayers.

239. Bathe, wear clean clothes, apply some Vibhuti ashes or Namam. Meet in a common place, do Veda Abhyasam or learn sloka-s or sing Bhajan-s. Others who are not brahmins, should also get fully integrated in this effort. There is an ocean of literature in all our Indian languages of exceptional literary and religious merit. For example, there is wonderful Thevaram, Thiruvasagam and Nalayira Divya Prabhandam in Tamil. These could be learnt by children of all castes. It is very important to inculcate this interest, from childhood. All children could learn Sanskrit too, since all the Saastraa-s are in that language only. Instead of listening to others' interpretation of, what is in our Saastraa-s, over a life time we can learn about the greatness of our religion, ourselves!

240. So the younger generation, though may not be able to follow a total Vaidik Aachaara Anushtaana procedure, will at least have some love and respect for our religious and cultural heritage! This arrangement may motivate at least some to adopt a 100% Vaidik package. The profession of Purohitam will regain relevance and respect. Those Saastry-s and Pundit-s of today, who are convinced that their profession is in the throes of death due to irrelevance and irreverence; may be motivated to let their sons continue the line!

(To be continued.)



Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 120 (Vol #3) Dated 25 August 2009.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 120 (Vol #3) Dated 25 August 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 the 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 529 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.)

222. There is a Tamil saying that if the expenditure is going to be more than the capital investment and generated income, it will lead to successive ruin and damnation! I quote:- “aana mudalukku adhigam selavaanaal,.....maanam azhindu madhi kettu.....”. What ever the other gains of abiding with aachaaraa-s, there is one certain advantage. That is thrift.

223. Coffee is anaachaaram; so is visiting clubs and hotels; drama and cinema are not approved in saastraa-s; imbibing liquor is taboo; all sorts of gambling such as playing cards, horse racing, playing the share market, are just not OK, proscribed! When living strictly as per the dictates of the Saastraa-s, you must cut down on travel too. When you do live like that, many of these expenses are automatically saved! If such a person who is living strictly as per the dictates of the Saastraa-s, some times gets the idea of visiting a club or race-course, seeing him in ‘Pancha-Katcham and Kudumi’, others will make fun of him and cause him to retrace his steps! Take the simple aspect of the dress and compare the cost in making, laundry and maintenance of a suit and coat with shoes and socks, with that of wearing a Veshti and thundu!

224. Even while going to the office, if everyone is firm on not wearing a shirt, in this democratic world, the Government will have to come around and agree. Did not Mahatma Gandhi go right upto the King Emperor, in just four cubit Veshti and thundu? Once the whole nation changes over to ‘Swadeshi’ clothes and loses interest in the pant and shirt or suit, there will be substantial saving to the masses. Think of it! What is not washed is not accepted as clean, i.e., ‘madi’! Can you wash a suit every day? However much it may look clean, it is not ‘madi’. It is anaachaaram as full of yesterday’s sweat!

225. Some body interrupted Periyaval saying possibly, ‘there are such clothes being manufactured and available now-a-days, which can be washed and dried. Such clothes will not require use of pressing iron, as they are wrinkle free, even when crushed! So, there will be no need for laundry’. But the point is that, artificial clothes are not acceptable to the Saastraa-s. Only cotton and silk are acceptable. In that also I am very seriously against silk as it means killing thousands of worms for each yard of cloth!

226. Now-a-days, a lot of by products of the petroleum industry are flooding the market, inclusive of the ubiquitous Plastic. This is also not acceptable to the Saastraa-s and so anaachaaram only. To wear a shirt made of such material, touching the skin all of the time, is just not acceptable. I am told that such clothes do not let ease of passage of air through them. In South where ten months in a year, there is heat and humidity, there is no need for a shirt. Even in the so called winter month of Margazhi, it is enough if we wear an Anga Vastram. This wearing of the shirt is a habit of less than ten decades vintage. If the people decide, any such habit can be changed. That is why, the word habit is a synonym for clothes.

227. Not only in the matter of dress, for other observance of aachaaraa-s also, the excuse given is, ‘they will not permit us in the office‘. They say, “You are telling us to fast on Ekadasi days. How can we keep a fast and work in the offices or factories? If the Amavasya tarpanam is to be done only at certain given times, won’t it affect office timings?” My answer is that, if all people concertedly decide to fast on ‘Ekadasi’ days and do ‘pithru tarpanam’ on Amavasya/new moon days, the society will have to accommodate such activities.

228. Are there not protests for every minor matter, of no relevance now? In the name of this right and that privilege, don’t people say that they are going to go around shouting some slogans for this ‘Day’ or that and offices permit? If we have faith in our system of Saastraa-s and Aachaaraa-s and sincere in observing them religiously, we will have our way. Even in the times of the rule of the British, there have been people like Sir. T. Muthuswami Iyer, who were very strict adherents of the Saastraa-s and still raised to the level of High court and Supreme court Judges!

229. If there is some one even now, following sincerely all the aachaaraa-s required of him, however much the world may be sliding down, it does not fail to extend the courtesy and respect as deserved by the former. However much the attraction in coat and suit, people do have a special regard and respect for a person who is a sincere observer of aachaaraa-s. When such a person emerges, with a pancha katcham, kudumi, with the three stripes of Vibhuti or Naamam, people do take note of and pay respect!
Aachaaraa-s has that aura of attraction, and causes all others to pay attention!

230. Let All People Become Vaidik! Aachaaraa-s can survive only if all people start observing their part of the Aachaaraa-s. If only some people observe the dictates of the Aachaaraa-s, they will be classified as Vaidik, as though it is only their job to do so. All people of all caste-s should try and follow all the Aachaaraa-s as meant for them. The Brahmin has the maximum rules and regulations as Aachaaraa-s. Those born as brahmins should try and live up to the expectations of that caste, strictly observing all the Aachaaraa-s required of them without fail. Then is the matter of the mistaken notion we have that, only those who have taken ‘Purohitam’ as a profession are Vaidik! We will analyze this in greater detail in the next e-mail.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 119 (Vol #3) Dated 22 August 2009.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 119 (Vol #3) Dated 22 August 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 the 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 the middle of page 525 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.)

212. Despite clear instructions that, leaving the immediate three previous generations, all other ancestors have to be honoured with 'tarpanam', by all people who have been given Yagnopaveetam; this is not being done because, letting things go by default has become a tradition! While some Aachaaraa-s are being ignored or let go by default, some mistaken notions are getting shaded as though they are approved Aachaaraa-s! When there is an elder sister not yet married, the younger brother is not given his 'Poonool'!

213. In trying to combine the expenses of the girl's marriage and the boy's Poonool, his wearing of Yagnopaveetam gets inordinately delayed and he remains deprived of introduction to Sandya Vandanam and chanting of Gayatri mantra! Another mistaken notion is that, 'there should not be three Brhmachari-s in the same house!' In the bargain, the third boy's Yagnopaveetam is delayed beyond the age limit as laid in the Saastraa-s. It would be far better if we got rid of such pseudo beliefs masquerading as Vaidik Aachaaraa-s!

214. It is clearly defined that 'sadaachaaraa-s' are all those traditional practices handed over from generation to generation, with the proviso that they shall not be contrary to what is given in 'Sruti and Smruti'! "yasmin dese yad aachaara: paaramparya: kramaagata: I sruti-smruti-avirodena sad-aachaara:-sa uchyate II"

5. Deviation from the Saastraa-s can only be within the range of freedom as permitted by the Saastraa-s themselves. We must try and live up to the standards as required of us, to the extent humanly possible. They remain the inviolable authority.

216. Saastraa-s say that for the about to be wedded couple, once they have tied the knot of 'kangana', (the thread tied in the right wrist), they are not affected even by the 'theettu' that normally accrues on the death of either or both the parents! Similarly, it does not affect a person who has taken 'deeksha' for the conduct of a Yagna or has taken the 'iru mudi' for going to Sabarimalai. The 'aasoucha' rules governing the 'theettu' on the occurrence of death are otherwise very strict. But even these are having built in exemptions.

217. In 'Ratotsawam', people from all the castes are required to participate, without being too sensitive about the unavoidable physical contacts. Rather, they are likely to undergo excruciating, intense and crushing milieu, while all their physical energies are to be collectively applied for pulling the huge chariot. After the event, when you go home, you are not to have a bath, however much you might have physically sweated! Similarly in the North, the Holi celebrations have such holy implications.

218. After returning from a 'Ratotsawam' if you feel that you are dirty and must have a bath, to get rid of the sweat and muck, you would be wrong to do so! Though many of the Aachaaraa-s are for greater cleanliness, they are not meant only for the purpose of cleanliness. Aachaaraa-s are not to be considered as a simple laundering procedure! That is why the proverb says that 'cleanliness is next to Godliness'! It remains still one step short!

219. The point to understand is that, the aim of all aachaaraa-s are to take us closer to divine consciousness. Cleanliness is only a secondary or tertiary aim. It is to be sacrificed eventually, when we have to lose our all, our very separateness itself, to completely merge in the divinity of God, as a river does in the ocean! So, as the ultimate aim is the inner cleanliness, to reach that we have to abide with the way we are expected to behave by the aachaaraa-s. Cleanliness and hygiene are comparatively minor issues. Whether it is up to the mark in terms of modern thoughts of civilization or not, whether it is acceptable to science and modern sensibilities or not, we must learn to obey unquestioningly!

220. Generally these Aachaaraa-s are amenable to the requirements of health, hygiene, family standards and social norms of behaviour only. That is, the Saastraa-s are directed towards providing family and social welfare and comfort only. It is said, "...saastraaya cha sukhaaya cha...", meaning, 'do comfortably as given in the Saastraa-s'. It is further said, "..aachaaraat labhate hyaayu: aachaaraat eepsitaam prajaa: I aachaaraat dhanam akshayyam aachaaro hanty-alakshanam II...". This means that these good traditions when meticulously followed provide long life, undiminished wealth, desired off-springs and does away with ugliness! That is. they provide all material benefits that you may aspire for! Even your physical and behavioural ugliness is removed and you develop the quality of 'vashitvam', that is, capacity to attract others!.

221. 'Aachaaraat dhanam akshayyam', could be understood in more than one way. Devotion, divine awareness, wisdom and dispassion are all much more desirable than, material well being. These are the automatic byproducts of Aachaara-s. At the same time by removing the urge for more and more, that is, insatiable greed, Aachaaraa-s enable us to live within means! That is the biggest wealth! Actually we see practically that more the income, there are more the chances for going astray. Any economist will tell you as to how, it is the expenditure column which needs to be controlled. Otherwise, if uncontrolled, the natural urge to increase income leads to many of the avoidable ills of the society. Loan to pay of the loans, deficit financing, overdraft, gambling and so on! The line is never ending. (To be continued.) Sambhomahadeva.


Friday, August 21, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 118 (Vol #3) Dated 20 August 2009.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 118 (Vol #3) Dated 20 August 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 the 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 the middle of page 522 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.)

204. In South India, for long, even in very religiously orthodox families, much of what is called ‘in-breeding’ has been there! Sister’s son with brothers daughter, known in Tamil as ‘aththaan & ammangaal’; brother’s son with sister’s daughter, known as ‘ammanji & aththngaal’; were considered as most suitable for being married. That is, cousins with a common grand father, used to be called by an epithet, ‘murai payyan/penn’, meaning, 'made for each other' as though! This is against the Saastraa-s. Going one step beyond, for a girl, her Mother’s Brother, known as ‘Maamaa‘, was the first choice for marriage. In the North India, they ask, “What is this sacrilege?”

205. Because of a more bitter winter than in the South and much longer period of domination by Muslims in the North, it is to be expected that they should be less orthodox and they are in some respects. Like we see the Pujary in Kasi and Badri Nath temples wearing shirts with a jersey and an overcoat! Even Sadhu-s would be smoking from the common Hukka, as an accepted social custom! But when it comes to this exchange of bride/bride grooms, they are more true to the dictates of the Saastraa-s than we are in the South.

206. In certain other respects too, they are more strict with their aachaaraa-s. There has been an occasion when I was taught a lesson in Aachaaraa by a North Indian Lady visitor to this Ashram! Let me tell you of that recent incidence. (This was possibly in 1956.) In Gorakhpur, there is a Gita Press. They publish a periodical known as, ‘Kalyana Kalpataru’, a religious periodical. Those people with some devotees organized a trip down South, to places of religious merit. There were some 400 to 500 people in some ten buses. They also visited this place, Kanchipuram. That day it was a day of ‘mouna vratam’, (i.e., a vow of silence) for me. I was sitting under the mango tree that day, as they arrived. They came to me singly to pay respects to me. As Prasadam I gave each of them some sugar candy crystals. Some of them I noticed took it with some noticeable amount of reluctance.

207. One lady was frank enough to tell me bluntly in Hindi that, sugar candy as prasadam is of no use and that I may as well give her some other thing as prasadam! Now I understood the reason why others were reluctant to receive the prasadam from me. In earlier times, for refining the molasses animal bones were being made use of. So evidently they had stopped making use of sugar candy as prasadam in Hindu religious organizations. I had known this when visiting North India during my Pada Yatra-s in 1934-36. Subsequently however sugar manufacturers in South, had informed me that they had changed the process of refinement of the molasses by using some other materials, so as not to hurt the Hindu religious sentiments. Accordingly we had reintroduced use of sugar candies as prasadam.

208. The process may not have changed in the sugar mills in the North or the change if any may not be known to the visitors from Gorakhpur that day. So many of them before her may have reluctantly accepted my giving them the prasadam, so as not to upset this Swamiji! But that Lady must have thought that, after all Swamiji-s come and go, but the Aachaaraa-s are more important. So she was brave enough to flatly refuse my offer and ask for something else as Prasadam! I understood and gave her some Vibhuti and Kumkum instead. That day being my day of ‘Mouna Vratam’, no explanation was offered. I make the point, to bring home that North Indians are more Aachaaraa conscious than us in the South in many ways.

209. During Brhma Charyam while doing Guru Kula Vasam, the boys are to wear the Veshti with Katcham with an upper veshti, known as Anga Vastra, as per the Saastraa-s. Of course there are no more Guru Kula Vasam in the real sense these days, as they used to do in olden times when, the students used to live as part of the Guru’s household while learning Veda-s and Saastraa-s. Now-a-days, there are some Veda Patashala-s being run in some places, more like any school with a number of Adhyapaka-s.

210. But in places wherever there are young boys learning the Veda-s in the North, wearing of Pancha Katcha Veshti and Anga Vastram is being strictly followed, from the time they start. Here in the South our boys, remain with a simple one-wrap veshti, till they get married. To my knowledge, even non-brahmins wear their Veshti with katcham in the North, whereas here in South, especially in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, have only this 'thattu chuththu', that is the single wrap-around! This is 'anaachaaram and asaastreeyam!', that is, contrary to what is given in the Saastraa-s!

211. 'Brhma Yagnam' is an Anushtana to be done for Deva-s, Rishi-s, Pithru-s, human beings (like visitors and guests) and other living beings (like birds, animals and insects). Bachelor boys including those, whose parents are alive, are also required to do the whole of Brhma Yagnam procedure. Some how it had become the custom for boys whose parents are alive to let this part 'on pithru-s' go by default! That is being daft to say the least. After all, the 'tarpanam' is addressed towards the 'pithru-s' who are no more and not to those who are alive. Even those whose parents are alive, are essentially required to pay their respects to the ancestors of the particular branch of the 'Shaka or sutra'! Not to do so is 'anaachaaram'.
(To be continued.)


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 117 (Vol #3) Dated 17 August 2009.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 117 (Vol #3) Dated 17 August 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 the 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 the middle of page 518 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.)

195. Simultaneously, women who are widows have been debarred from many of the normal activities by the aachaaraa-s as though to remind them constantly that they are out of the normal run of things, sadly! However they should not take offence. They should understand that, the purpose and aim of the exercise is to enable them to get rid of all worldly attachments and sensual diversions. This is so that, they could give their attention to God, devotion and understanding of existence! This is to enable them to live a life of celibacy and devotional prayers, as the Catholic nuns do in Christendom. They should not take it as though they are being punished unfairly!

196. The point to understand is that, aachaaraa-s are not meant to vilify, incarcerate or ridicule any particular individual. For example it is widely believed that, when a lone brahmin appears when we are about to embark on any intended activity, it is considered as a bad omen! For all we know, that single brahmin may be a well learned Veda-vit worthy of our respect! These things are not within the ambit of reason and logic.

197. The aachaaraa-s are so evolved that when you do them, all the faculties are deeply involved. Mind in deliberating on God, mouth in uttering God's names or the concerned Mantra-s, ears in hearing those chantings, eyes in the vision of God and the hands, legs and body involved in the concerned action! There is no meaning in such actions without thinking and singing in praise of God's ennobling qualities! What ever man does are done by all the animals and life forms too. Starting from a germ, all of them are born, breath, eat, grow, procreate and die. If man also does these actions only, what is the qualitative difference of being born as a human being? That difference is in his thinking faculty. Normally one tends to misuse the thinking faculty, in jealousy, hate and scheming the downfall of others. Whereas the correct use of that thinking faculty should be to 'think of God!' That is why, aachaaraa-s provide n-number of opportunities to connect all our thoughts, speech and action to the supreme benevolent power that is God.

198. That is the reason why, the saastraa-s require that we offer our food to God, before partaking it. That we should be chanting God's name while having our bath. The fish is all the time in water! But, it is not considered as clean as your being 'madi' after a bath while chanting God's Names! If you bathe chanting the necessary mantraa-s or saying, 'Govinda! Govinda!' or any other Ishta Devata's Name, it is not only your body that is cleansed but your heart and soul too, that get cleansed. Thus I repeat, Aachaaraa-s are meant to focus all our capabilities and faculties, addressed towards God!

199. Since I spoke about the fish that it is not 'madi', I am reminded of a peculiar fact. What seemingly looks down right dirty seem to be most acceptable for devotional activities. All honey is collection of the 'echchil' of thousands of honey bees! That too, we are mis-appropriating and commandeering in one go, their hard earned collection in very small bits! Similar is the case of Silk, the 'echchil' of the silk worm whose mass murder leads to the creation of the silk cloth and it is considered as 'madi' all of the time! When the calf wets the udders of the cow with its saliva, the milk flows in to our cans! What we consider as the sacred waters of the rivers and ponds of 'Punya Kshetra-s', are the abodes of the dirty fish. These are all most suitable for devotional purposes!
200. Thus the Saastraa-s contain in them certain exemptions and relaxations. We are not to take liberties with them and keep adding more and more relaxations. Ours is to follow as closely as humanly possible, the rules and regulations of the Saastraa-s.

201. Main Saastraa-s and Contrary Traditions. (In the translation of Volume 2, in the chapter about Brhma Charyam, there is talk on 'the Rules of Saastraa-s and Traditions'. This may be referred in the context of what is said herein after.) Despite the existence of the Saastraa-s, there are some family and clannish traditions, some of which are being practiced in addition. These are mostly, slightly different and some are even contrary to the Saastraa-s. Somehow these have also come in to existence and being widely observed.

202. These mutually contradicting Aachaaraa-s, based on Family and Regional loyalties, have been going on for long. We can only construe that there must have been some inner divine promptings as the reason for their coming into being. I said that we must follow even these and try to abide with them as far as possible. But that still does not mean however that we should be blindly be doing so either! Now-a-days the inner conscience is being given much weightage. There are some who are advocating the idea that, in the name of 'Kula and Desha Aachaaram', where we are moving far away from the old Vaidika systems, it is better to apply the correction, back towards the original methods. I think that there is much sense in doing so. Let me explain.

203. If there are no common ancestors for three generations between families, only then, there could be inter marriages, between those families. In the North, they go even further. They say that in the list of Gothra-s, seven Gothra-s on either side are to be avoided. As per biological sciences too consanguineous marriages are to be avoided. But in South India, we have gone in more and more for closer inter marriages within families.
(We will continue on this point in more detail in the next e-mail.)


Saturday, August 15, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 116 (Vol # 3) Dated 15 August 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 116 (Vol # 3) Dated 15 August 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 513 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.)

{Note:- While talking on the subject of various intricacies of Do's and Don'ts of Aachaara, mentioned in this and the previous two or three e-mails, Periyaval was referring to a book repeatedly. The details of the Title and author's name of the book were not known on a later date when all this was compiled.}

187. Once the 'Sankalpa' for a marriage has been taken by the bridegroom and he has worn the 'Kangana', even the death of his own parents is not considered as a 'theettu' and will not be a hurdle in his resolve of getting married. Evidently this is so that, the bride may not be stranded for life! Periyaval again quotes from the book he was perusing. It says that coconut water kept in a bell metal utensil becomes liquor. May be some chemical reaction takes place. But, that may not be the reason necessarily!

188. Now a days, there are many synthetic materials of plastic and other alloys of metals replacing naturally occurring materials. That does not give us license to replace what is given in the saastraa-s for use in our aachaaraa-s. Substitution can only be as given in the saastraa-s. What is seemingly similar in look cannot have the same chemical or physical properties. For example, in cooking for Sraaddham, we are not to use certain vegetables such as beans, cabbage, cauliflower and so on. Though they are both hot to the taste, chillies are taboo while black pepper is permitted.

189. During the time of 'theettu', though none of the vows of abstinences known as 'vratam or upavasam' can be effective, if Ekadasi occurs during such theettu, the fasting is still to be done! The next day is Dwadasi. The Upavasam of Ekadasi is broken on the next day of Dwadasi and that is called 'Paaranai'. On that day, whatever period of time Dwadasi lasts, one eighth of that period is known as 'Harivaasaram' within which the Upavaasam is to be completed. For this sake there is special permission to complete Madyaanhikam and Vaisvadewam earlier than normal on Dwadasi. But if on that day if Divasam, that is, the annual day of Sraaddham of a 'pithru' occurs, sorry, you have to wait till the after noon i.e., 1.12 to 3.36 PM when the divasam will be done and 'Paaranai' is only after that! But if the Divasam happens to come on Ekadasi, then after the 'Pithru Karyam', you have to eat what ever was cooked as 'Pithru Sesham' as their blessings! That is, you have to break the fast!

190. In the 'Paaranai' on Dwadasi you have to include 'Aathik Keerai' (a type of green leaves of a tree, normally fed to the horses). In that cooking, instead of Tamarind, Lemon should be used. 'Sunddai Kai' is another item to be included in Dwadasi Paaranai. This is a small bitter berry, green in colour, the fruit of a creeper plant. It is stated in the book that Dieticians confirm that these things are good for digestion after a fasting!

191. Brahmins should always avoid Onion and Garlic, while others should not use them on days of fasting. This restriction is for the sake of protecting the correct pronunciation, articulation, intonation, modulation in pitch (of one lower, par and two levels of higher stress) and sanctity of the chanting of the Mantra-s. For this sake, here there is some extra taboos on the Brahmins. It is given here in this book that these items irritate and instigate sexual thoughts and energies. Dootuvalai is the Tamil name of a plant whose leaves when consumed, have the power enabling control over the five senses of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste; especially over their tendency to search for gratification!

192. When you are sick, medicines containing the essence of onion, garlic and such forbidden items could be consumed, as allowed by the saastraa-s. But once you are rid of the illness, you are to make amends as advised by those very saastraa-s. When there is some one in the door front, hungry and begging for food, if you ignore him and eat food, that is as good as eating flesh and that water is same as liquor, says the book. There are more instructions in detail about how a woman should conduct herself during her monthly periods.

193. As the effects of 'theettu and madi' are not visible to the human eye, people call them superstitions. But people like me are practically observing the increased occurrence of epidemics and ever new mutations of disease causing germs; natural calamities such as drought, floods, earth quakes and tsunamis; fire accidents; failure of monsoons and such aberrations in nature as melting of the ice-caps in the polar regions and so on; all due to our lackadaisical attitude about 'theettu and madi' requirements. If we still do not see the cause and effect relationship between this failure to observe the rules of 'theettu and madi' and the increased occurrence of natural and not so very natural calamities, in my view this seems to be the biggest superstition!

194. There are also some occasions mentioned here which touch us sentimentally. If we accidentally touch others with our leg or step over a book or pencil or paper, we ourselves feel slightly guilty about it. If we are seated when an elderly person comes near or when we are lying down with our legs extended towards him or her, we feel slightly squeamish about it. When we are about to start on a venture, if we see an elderly lady come along neatly dressed with evident indications of her having lived a long and happy married life, with marks of turmeric and Kumkum on her face, we take it as a good omen.

(To be continued.)



Thursday, August 13, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 115 (Vol # 3) Dated 12 August 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 115 (Vol # 3) Dated 12 August 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 the middle of page 509 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.)

178. You can shave only on certain days of the week and fortnight. Oil bath is permitted only on certain days of the week. I can not tell you why it is so. You should not bite the nail. We should not be biting or wetting with saliva, the fruit or eatable or utensil with our mouth directly that we leave bits of saliva on them. In Tamil, it is simply said as, "doing echchil" is forbidden. For these personal hygiene could be the reason.

179. You should not gamble. Drinking liquor is forbidden. In these, the reason is a combination of ethics, personal health, welfare of the family, and social responsibility; put together as rules and regulations of Aachaaraa-s. Except during marriages and travel, eating with one's wife is not to be done. Milk is to be avoided in the afternoon and curd is to be avoided in the night. Doctors agree with these taboos on grounds of health.

180. Cloth made of coir like fiber known as 'naarmadi', silk and wool are always considered as clean for wearing on occasions as Yagna, Meditation and other religious ceremonies. If they have been used on many occasions and covered with dirt and sweat, they can be cleaned by washing with water mixed with some porridge of green gram, on Amavasya or Dwadasi! Here I must tell you about my opinion on Pattu, the Silk from silk worms, which may already be known to you!

181. For each yard of silk cloth, thousands of silk worms have to be boiled alive! Then to say 'ahimsa paramo dharma:' is anathema. In addition the cost of silk is prohibitively beyond the reach of even middle income group. Due to compulsions of tradition and social expectations, people incur these expenses in marriages and become indebted for life. For these reasons I have been reiterating that we should completely do away with this cruel method of manufacturing cloth! There are some method of making silk, known as 'ahimsa pattu'. Though this cloth is not so very soft and shining, it is far more preferable, especially for spiritual purposes.

182. The day's food should not be partaken without offering to the guest. It used to be the custom to go out of the house and check if there is any likely guest coming by any chance, before sitting down for the day's food. There are two varieties of guests. One is an invitee, called 'abyaagadar'. The other is an unexpected guest by chance, known as 'atiti'. They are to be fed first. Here it is humaneness that has become an aachaara! Instead of feeling disgusted that someone should arrive at the nick of time, when you were about to have food, we should be thankful for their arrival, giving us an opportunity to play host to them! The reluctance to share our largesse with others is not only morally incorrect, but also poor form in terms of 'aachaara'.

183. You must wash your hands and feet before going to sleep. The dentist will say that you should brush your teeth also, before going to sleep. This book on aachaaraa also gives account of how many times you should be gargling your mouth, after finishing eating. Such gargling also exercises the digestive glands in the mouth and throat. To drink bed-coffee is 'anaachaaraam' as well as, unhygienic. Instead of using the same dirty 'echchil' tooth-brush, use daily a green twig of 'Aala or Vela maram'! The Tamil proverb says that 'Aalum Velum pallukku urudhi', meaning that the barks of these two trees of Aala Maram (Banyan tree) and Vela Maram (coniferous tree of the sea shore), are good for strength of the teeth. (Point to note is that the tooth brush made out from a tiny twig of such a tree is also bio-degradable!)
184. The book that gives instructions that we should brush our teeth well and gargle well enough to exercise the glands around the mouth, in the face and neck, also says that on Sraddha days when Pithru Karya is to be done, it is enough to do some mouth wash without brushing the teeth! Do not wonder as to whether there has been a blatant error of omission. On other days, after brushing your teeth and vigorous gargling exercising the vocal chords and glands, the digestive juices are likely to be activated causing hunger. On all other days, you are likely to drink milk or some gruel, to satisfy that hunger. But on the days of Sraddha, you are not to eat or drink anything till all Karya is over, by about 2 or 3 PM. So the saastraa-s forbid you from an active brushing of the teeth, so that you may not suffer from acidity and gastritis!

185. When any relative dies, depending on certain norms, the number of days of mourning differs. This period is known as
'theettu'. Similarly on the birth of a child, there is a period of 'soodakam'. There are many rules governing all possible combinations of likely events concerning these things. There is 'theettu[' during the time of eclipse too. There are a lot of rules about these three periods of social isolation. Japa or chanting of mantraa-s during these periods are not allowed except that, in the eclipse of the sun and or moon, Japa is required to be done and it is more effective then!

186. The same Saastraa-s which talk extensively about 'theettu' concerning death, also clarify that, once a bride groom has taken the vow for marriage and has got the 'kangana' tied around his wrist, is not affected by the 'theettu' of even the death of his parents! No-where-else in the world are such stringent social customs nor are they so humane!

(To be continued.)



Monday, August 03, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 114 (Vol # 3) Dated 03 August 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 114 (Vol # 3) Dated 03 August 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 506 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.)

169. You should see an experienced Srouti handling a complex conduct of a Maha Yagnam involving hundreds of Purohit-s, as done during Kumbha Mela or Samprokshanam of a Temple. You will see efficiency in flow, supervising, checking, approving, directing, encouraging, exhorting and orchestrating flawlessly! That comes from practice, attention to details, total concentration and commitment!

170. Commitment and sincerity of purpose are like the two eyes in a face. The Sanskrit word that is normally but mistakenly, used to indicate this quality of commitment and sincerity of purpose is 'Sraddha'. But in reality, this word has a more important connotation. It means 'faith and belief'. You do not need to have faith and belief in matters that are directly observable. Faith and belief are more required for things not directly apparent. You have to have faith and belief in what is called the 'adrushta phala' or unseen effects of the Saastraa-s and Aachaaraa-s.

171. You have to have faith in the rituals devised by our ancestors without which, you will miss out on the essentials. Sri Krishna says in the Gita, "...sraddhaawaan labhate gnaanam..."(Gita 4.39), meaning that it is the man with faith, that is 'sraddhawaan', who benefits the most by obtaining Gnaanam! That Gnaanam is not just any knowledge, but the only information by gaining which, everything else is crystal clear and there are no more doubts!
172. 'Sraarddham' is another word that is mis-spelt with a second 'r' that has infiltrated and the meaning of the word is mis-understood as well. When you are doing the 'pithru karya', if you do not believe that you are doing some thing for your departed souls, you may as well not do it. To do it with 'sraddha' is to believe in it. That is how Aachaaraa-s are to be done, sans doubts, questions and doubts as to whether it is alright as per science or psychology or health and hygiene! However advanced today's knowledge and comprehension may be, not all the logic of the Aachaaraa-s may be within our grasp. But to accept some of the Aachaaraa-s and leave some, based on our understanding and logic, would be like jumping across half the well!

173. The present day is called 'the age of distrust'! "How can we believe what we do not know or understand?", is the question that is raised. Even today a lot of things are done on trust and belief, without knowing that such is the case. We do not check the bill while swiping the credit card, as we neither have the time nor the inclination. No one ever checks as to how his pre-paid amount in the cell phone dwindles quickly! We believe that the driver of the taxi/bus/train/plane is not inebriate! Or rather, we do not think about it even. We simply trust. But when it comes to the matter of Aachaaraa-s, we think that we are qualified to question why and why not!

174. The Rishi-s of yore were aware of extremely subtle scientific truths of which we are not knowledgeable even to day. Somehow knowing these truths, they had evolved these Aachaaraa-s. Without using any of the modern instruments and gadgets, they had access to super sensory powers, which could make it possible for them to theorize and conceptualize in the fields of Math's, Medicine and Astrology, to name a few. Aachaaraa-s are from the same origin of flawless perception. So we have to believe in the unseen based on the seen truths of their achievements!

175. I will give you one more logic. All Saastraa-s assert truth to be the highest Dharma. To tell a lie is to suffer through hellish torture. They cannot get away mixing truth and untruth, to suit their whims and fancy! Unless they were witness to the ultimate truths, by a combination of intuition and divine Grace, they could not have done what they have done for the benefit of future generations! The great saints who evolved the Aachaaraa-s, could not have given play to their whims and fancies, while still believing in, "satyaan naasti paro dharma:", meaning that there is no higher principle than the truth!

176. We should not think as to why we are not able to understand the logic and reasoning of many of the rituals. When I go through this book, I find that even I am taken aback as to how to do all the things listed here! (Periyaval was referring here and later in his talk to some book on the rituals, whose title is unclear to the publishers.) As a head of a Mata, I am enabled to do all this by you. But I do see as to how it would be rather difficult for you all, who are so involved in the modern way of life. But the point is that, you must try your utmost now and try to pick up as much of the Aachaaraa-s as possible, at least in your later retired life! That should be your intension. When from your side there is sincere and serious will to do so, you will be enabled to do so, by God’s Grace!

177. Aachaaraa-s are rather exhaustive in their sweep of areas covered in day to day life. Let me read out a few from this book, some of which may seem quite outlandish! ‘Fire should not be blown by mouth.’ ‘Men should not put off deepam (lamp).’ ‘Women should not break the ‘Poosani Kaai’.’ The first one can be explained. We should avoid directly blowing in to the fire, (for brightening or putting it off), since the smoke or ash may be inhaled while blowing and or some particles of saliva may be reaching the fire, which is being disrespectful to the Agni, the fire God! You are required to use a hollow pipe on such occasions. For the next two Don’ts, I do not know the reason.

(To be continued.)


Saturday, August 01, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 113 (Vol # 3) Dated 31 July 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 113 (Vol # 3) Dated 31 July 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 503 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.)

159. Not only that there are five types of Snaanam, there are five stages in bathing. That is, the Mukhya Snaanam has five specific parts. They are given in this sloka quoted here:- “sankalpam sukta patanam maarjanam cha agamarshanam I devataa tarpanam cha eva snaanam panchaanga uchyate II”.

160. At the start of any activity, a declaration is made for the information of ’whosoever it may concern’ that, it is being done for the sake of absolution of past sins (as a praayaschiththam of past paapa-s), and so as to please the Ruler of the Universe (parameshwara preetyartam). This is known as ‘Sankalpa’. The first part. So here too sankalpam is done before the activity of Snaanam!

161. The second part is ‘sukta patanam’. This is to chant ‘Veda Sukta-s’. Next is 'marjanam', that is to sprinkle water on oneself with certain mantra-s. That is something like the initial wetting preparatory to the dipping or dunking. This immersion has to be done three times. While doing so, 'Agamarshana Suktam' is to be chanted three times while remaining submerged. If you cannot remain breathless for the period of 'Agamarshana Suktam', to be completed, then you may chant the Gayatri Mantra. This is to be chanted once separately as its five parts, then in two halves and then as a whole. Thus the mantra is to be chanted thrice, for three dunkings. If the water is too cold or you are breathless, then you may simply say three times, the Pranava Mantra of 'vohmm'. This should not be made the daily short cut! That would be tantamount to laziness and deceit. When you are in a hurry, you may use the 'gowna' method, with the regret in your heart for your inability to do it the 'pradhaana' method. Then God helps you in making up for the shortcoming of the 'gowna' method, as well as removes the hurdles in your way. If you are trying to dupe your way, then you are giving the license to God to dupe you! Then you have to do the 'deva-rishi-pithru tarpanam', while still standing in waist deep water. That completes the fifth part of the 'snaanam'!

162. What looks like a simple activity of bathing, has these many definitions and rules of procedure! Every part of life, from the coming into being of a child to disposals of the dead body, without differentiating between them as big or small and or as worldly and spiritual; every small act has been divinified by drawing your attention repeatedly to your inner self, the Atma. That is the way the Aachaaraa-s have been evolved.

163. Taking the simple act of bathing, I told you so many things about its types and parts. Before that I told you as to how you have to make use of 'doorva' grass and 'mruttika' - the earth from the ant hill; in bathing. There are still more rules that I have not spoken to you about! If we were only interested in the outer cleanliness, we can do with soap, shampoo and bathing salts. For the inner cleansing, we need the often unknown, un-understood and not much liked rules given by the most clean Rishi-s in the Saastraa-s.

164. For example, in a river we should face against the current while bathing. In a pond, whatever be the flow in it, we should face the Sun. On occasions when you cannot face the Sun, as while bathing in the night or after pithru-karma-s (aachousam), or after birth of a child (soodakam), we should be facing the East or North. You are not to pass urine or excreta directly in water. Evidently since the same water source like the river or pond may be used by others, this should be done sufficiently away after digging a shallow pit, which should be covered by earth after the act is over. Even when you are having a bath at home near a well or in the bathroom from tap water and bucket, you should face the East and follow as many of the rules as possible. Generally for all Karma-s East is preferred while for pithru-karma-s, it is done facing the South.

165. The Saastraa-s are full of detailed, minute and elaborate instructions on every action during these rituals. I spoke about the direction to face while bathing and other activities just now. For example there are clear instructions on how to sit during various actions. During Dhyana, it is Padmasana. For all other activities it is Suhasana, except for Aachamanam(three sips of water to start with, described hereinafter), when you are to be on your haunches with the two elbows in between the knees. During Sankalpa, your left hand palm should be on your right thigh, enclosed by the right palm, cross wise.

166. During Pranayama, your right hand should be folded in a manner so that, the index and middle finger bend inwards, lightly touching the right nostril with your thumb till inhalation; then while retaining the breath, the thumb and ring fingers should be lightly closing both the nostrils; then slightly easing the pressure of the ring finger during exhalation. This pressure and easing with the fingers alternating, during inhalation and exhalation in the reverse direction next.

167. Similarly there are instructions as to which finger to bend and which one to extend during Aachamanam, and so on. For each there is a measure with limits. For Aachamanam, the water held in the palm of your hand, should be that much only in which a grain of green gram could submerge. For each Tarpanam offering of water with sesame grains, the amount of water should be that much as to fill the horn of a cow, 'go srunga pramanam', say the saastraa-s! Similarly there are clear instructions as to how many Darba grass for holding in between small and middle fingers during many of the pooja / yaaga activities (except for Aachamanam) and how many darba grass to be kept under ones seat; how many grains of sesame seeds / quantity of Ghee / Havis / which item should be kept in which direction; so on and so on! Initially it can look flabberghastingly too complicated, these rules and regulations of the Aachaaraa-s! By practice these will become second nature.

168. Do we not learn to control the clutch, gear, accelerator, indicator, wind shield wiper, horn, lights dip and dim and so on and still drive a car, that too in the traffic conditions (of hundreds of different varieties of vehicles each of untold numbers, all competing with each other for a piece of the road) and road conditions (with next to nil road marking signs and boards, with pot holes and uncovered digging , competing with meant to be and not meant to be speed breakers), as obtaining in a country like ours? Do we not still drive safely enough, as schools of fish avoid bumping against each other in the deep! With practice Aachaaraa-s can and do become our second nature, so that during the function, our minds are deep in the inner realms of the self or at least thoughtless, instead of bothering about the rules and regulations of the Aachaaraa-s!

(To be continued.)