Wednesday, November 11, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 148 (Vol #3) Dated 11 Nov 2009.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 148 (Vol #3) Dated 11 Nov 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 666 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.

20. 'Wearing of poonool (Yagnopaveetam) alone does not make a brahmin, it is his attitude and behaviour that make him so'. If you are told so, it does not mean that, you straight away remove the poonool. If one custom or tradition or ritual is preferable than the other, it does not mean that the earlier mentioned is to be discarded. At times such a statement may be made to emphasize the latter. In Bhagawat Gita, Sri Krishna has under played one set of aachaaraa-s, to lay stress on another.

21. In the first Sloka of Chapter 6, He says that by not doing his duties and not carrying out Agni Karya (such as Oupaasanam, Agni Hotram and Yagnam), alone does not make one a Sanyaasi. I Quote, "sa sanyaasi cha yogi cha na niragnir na cha akriya: I". Anyhow, a sanyaasi is not required to do those things. He has no social responsibilities either. To get the correct meaning we have to relate to the first line of the Sloka, which says "anaasrita: karma phalam karyam karma karoti ya:", meaning, 'the one who does what ever work that happens to become his responsibility, does that without the sense of doership and without looking for the fruits of his labour, he is the real sanyaasi! Bhagawan Sri Krishna completes his statement that, "sa sanyaasi cha yogi cha", meaning that 'he is a sanyaasi and a yogi too'. Then only adds, not the one who has given up his agni karya and other karma-s!

22. If we understand the whole thing correctly, what is meant is that, a person in the sanyaasa ashrama simply believes that by giving up his duties and agni karya, he could claim to be a sanyaasi, he is grossly mistaken. As long as he continues to work for personal gains, he is no sanyaasi! He has to anyhow stop his agni karya and give up all other duties too. But the Qualitative Requirement (QR) is, 'to give up, me, mine, ownership and expectations'.

23. When the Upanishad says 'anaachakena', (to which we saw Adi Sankara's explanation in the last mail), the direct meaning is to 'be without food', the allusion is to 'give up all sensual pleasures!' That is why Aachaaryal says that, "here the QR is not about simply fasting!" To skip a meal off and on is good both for the body as well as the mind. That is why the saastraa-s tell us to eat only saatvic food when we do eat, on occasions skip a meal and on special occasions completely forego meals the whole day.

24. Festivals, Vratam and Ekaadasi. Some days are meant for celebrating the coming into being of some Gods or days in memory of their exploits. Some other days are meant for fasting mainly. All most all religions have days for fasting, feasting and festivals! In some we have to bathe , decorate ourselves with new clothes, do Alankaram for the Deity, do pooja, prepare multi course special items as the Neivedyam for offering to the God, then feast and be happy. For some we pay more attention to the devotional activities with complete or partial fasting. These are the Vratam-s such as, Kruttika vratam, Chaturthi vratam, Rishi Panchami, Pradosha vratam, Soma Vaara vratam, Sravana vratam and Payo vratam. Above all this is the Ekaadasi vratam. On other vratams we have at least one meal. Ekaadasi is complete fasting, i.e., 'poorna upavaasam'.

25. Other vratams are talked about by Puraanaas & Aagamaa-s. In them what is oriented towards Siva may not be observed by the Vaishnava sect. Similarly what is oriented towards Vishnu may not be observed by others. Ekaadasi is universally applicable to followers of all sects with in the Hindu religion, as it is mentioned in dharma saastraa-s, which is commonly applicable to all.

26, Vishnu was sleeping. At that time, there was a demon who made life miserable for all the living beings in the whole world. To destroy that asura, Vishnu's power came out in the form of a woman who was called Ekaadasi. Maha Vishnu was said to have taken Avatara as Koorma, Varaha, Dhanvantri and Mohini, on Ekaadasi days. Thus Ekaadasi is generally believed to be more Vishnu related. But at the time of the churning of the ocean of milk, when Aalahaala Visham, the poison was expressed, Siva consumed it. That was an Ekaadasi day. So that day we should all observe total fast say the Saivites.

27. Thus Ekaadasi is acceptable for both Saiva and Vaishnava sect-s. But as long as you are born as a Hindu and follow any Ishta Devata, you are adviced by the Dharma Saastraa-s to observe the Ekaadasi Upavaasam.

28. Let me list all the days mentioned in the Dharma Saastraa-s for keeping Upavaasam. Ekaadasi is for complete fasting. Sunday, Full Moon and New Moon, are to be observed as days on which you can have one meal in the day time and fast in the night. During the waning and waxing of the moon in each fortnight and on the Ashtami and Chaturdasi, we are not to have any food during the day time and have one meal in the night time.

29. Ramanavami, Gokulashtami and Sivaratri are also said to be days on which complete upavaasa is to be observed. But in practice sufficient changes have infiltrated, to make them days of feast rather than fast! In Krishna Jayanti, that is, Gokulashtami a variety of snacks such, Murukku, Cheedai, Thenkuzhal, Appam, Adirasam and so on are also made that fasting may not be possible! Guruvaara vratam is quite prevalent these days.

30. More than any other in South India, it is the Saturday vratam that is widely observed. Many have no dinner in the evening this day, with a prayer addressed to Thirupati Venkata Ramana Swami. Though there is no mention of this Dharma Saastraa-s, according to the saying that, "kalou vekata naayaka".

31. Similarly the monday upavaasa is widely being observed amongst the Saivite-s and Smartaa-s. In the North, without any difference between Saivite-s and Vaishnavite-s, this Soma Vaara vratam is popular. That is how Lal Bahadur Sastry too, when there was acute food shortage in the country, recommended foregoing one meal every monday as a upavaasa. Even govt official dinners on this day was avoided. Not to rely too much on rice only, roti made of atta was introduced in all eateries in the south, around this time.

32. Thus it was officially recognized for the first time that, to fast could make a substantial difference in the food stock holdings at the national level. In my opinion, if we all observe all the rules for fasting as per the dharma saastraa-s, we could create a food surplus and be able to export our surpluses to earn foreign exchange!

33. Chandrayanam is the name of a vratam. Though it is true that we can gain nothing by putting ourselves through very tortuous methods of fasting, for some people this may be the only recourse. There may be some who realize that their back log of accumulated sins of the past are so huge that, try as hard as they can, they would never be able to cancel out their debt! When they come to this correct understanding of their insurmountable position, they may opt to do this Chandrayanam. Note that there are anushtaanaa-s even more difficult than this, like the one observed by Mandana Mishra, when Adi Sankara met him, known as 'Pancha Agni Vratam'!

34. To observe such anushtaanaa-s is called 'krusram'. Those who cannot bear the agony of such observances, could alternately opt for doing certain thousands of Gayatri Mantra. Then there is something in lieu of that. We are masters of the art of reduction. We replace one difficult anushtaanaa for another 'krusram' of donating a cow known as 'Godaanam'! Then that was replaced by donating the cost of a cow. Then that was further reduced, finally reaching 6 & 1/4 anna-s, a fraction of one Rupee to be donated!

35. There are two types of Chandrayanam. One is known as 'katterumbu' and the other known as 'godumai'. Katterumbu is like the big black ant, narrow to start with, become big and then again narrow, twice like that! Godumai starts of thin, become fat in the centre and tapers down in the end. The idea is to start off with one morsel of food on pratamai that is, on the first day after Full Moon, keep increasing by an additional morsel, till you reach 15 morsels on the New Moon. Then every day you reduce the number of morsels, till you fast on the next Full Moon. The other method is the opposite that you fast on the New Moon and have 15 morsels on the Full Moon. That is, you increase or decrease the input with
waxing and waning of the moon.

(To be continued.)




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