Friday, November 13, 2009

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 149 (Vol #3) Dated 13 Nov 2009.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 149 (Vol #3) Dated 13 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 673 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.

36. When observing Chandrayana Vratam, each day you are supposed to eat only once, that too only those many morsels as meant to be eaten that day. All Vratams are commonly known as, 'oru pozhudu', meaning once only. But then, having eaten that 'oru pozhudu', people take liberties by having a sumptuous, wholesome and filling spread known as 'palahaaram' of Iddly, Dosa, Uppuma, Vada and so on. The word 'palahaaram' could be taken to mean, 'many eats' or 'only fruits', with a pun on the word 'pala'! Real Upavaasam is eating fruits only!

37. Amongst Vratams, Ekaadasi has the pride of place. There is a sloka which goes like this:- "na gaayatryaa: param mantram na maatu: para deivatam I na kaasyaa: paramam teertam na ekaadasyaa: samam vratam II". There is no mantra above Gayatri; there is no God above one's Mother; there is no sacred river superior to the Ganges in Kaasi; says the Sloka, finally adding that there is no Vratam equivalent to Ekaadasi! Look at the selection of the words. The other three have nothing above them, would mean that there could be something equal. But in the case of Ekaadasi as a Vratam, not only that there is nothing above it but also, it is not even equalled!

38. Who are required to observe this Vratam? Dharma Saastram says that all human beings, both men and women, from eight years of age to 80, are required to observe this Vratam! Caste, creed, gender and any other differentiation does not matter. Uniformly all people are required to observe this Vratam:-
"ashta varsha adhika: martya: apoornaaseeti vatsara: I ekaadasyaam upavaset pakshayo: ubhayo: api II" With love and care the tiny tots less than eight and old people above eighty are both excused. Not that they are forbidden to fast but they are not required to! In places like Maharashtra, there have been mothers who do not breast feed their children on Ekaadasi days! The Saastraa-s are rather humane and so do not expect such extreme discipline.

39. We must start such ventures with a belief that we can manage and will be shown the way by God. The idea is not to make it a self torture but to build self confidence and reliance. On other Upavaasa days, we may have one time some Tiffin's and once some fruits and milk. Ekaadasi too could be started like that and later made progressively difficult.

40. Preferably Ekaadasi should be 'water less' too! To do so is very difficult. Then the stage lower is to have fruits with milk. Next lower level is to have 'oru pozhudu' of sattu maa and poories.
Then is 'rendu pozhudu' of once some Tiffin and once some fruits. Then we should not make it further watered down and make a joke of fasting! There is allowance for people who are sick, that they may have some porridge or gruel. If you have cooked food on Ekaadasi, please do not call it Ekaadasi Vratam any more. In fact having decided to undertake the Vratam, if we are fickle minded to eat cooked food, that is tantamount to 'eating the shit of a dog' say the Saastraa-s!

41. If your question is as to, 'how can you be expected to work on the Ekaadasi days as it is not declared as a Govt holiday', I will answer you in two ways. Everyone may undertake the Vratam and then ask the Govt to grant a holiday on Ekaadasi-s. Then the more important point is that, by foregoing food for a day, we will slowly come to realize that we are more energetic and lighter on those days! Rather we will start looking forward to greater efficiency and spritefulness that results. We will actually become more productive. This human body has one great quality. It gets used to habits and adjusts to any set patterns. So we can train ourselves not to become incapable of hard work on those days. If we are interested in spending the whole day in devotional activities, then we have to go back to the Govt to grant us holiday. But, first let us make ourselves deserving of such grant!

42. In the whole year, even if we are not able to make a complete 'suddha upavaasam' on all the 24 or 25 Ekaadasi days in a year, at least on Vaikunta Ekaadasi we should have such a complete Upavaasam! In Bhagawatam it is mentioned that, Bhima could never tolerate his hunger. So he was not able to maintain complete Upavaasam on these Ekaadasi days. So he took permission from Vyasa to do so once a year. That was not the same as Vaikunta Ekaadasi.

43. In our country, we should try and make this Ekaadasi more widely observed by all caste-s. It was so till some decades back. Only in the past two or three generations we have been defaulting on this. Even now because some Madhva grand mothers are observing this Vratam in some corners of the country that, we still have some rains and not complete draught! As this is a Vratam to be observed as per directions of Dharma Saastraa-s, it is applicable to all caste-s and sub-sects of Madva-s, Vaishnava-s and Smaartha-s. But in this, it is the Madva-s who are very sincere.

44. Normally amongst all traditional rituals, those in which mantra-s from the Veda-s are chanted, are priority one, as Veda-s are the basic scriptures in our religion. Then amongst Pithru Karma-s and Deva Karma-s, Pithru Karma-s get priority. Like if you have Rama Navami and your departed Father's yearly falling on the same day, Father's Karma will be done first! Ekaadasi has no scriptural Vedic relevance. Similarly in chanting of God's names and singing Bhajan-s, no Veda mantra-s are involved.

45. Sraaddham is a very serious Vedic Karma addressed at the Pithru-s. In it after the offering of food to the Brahmins representing the Pithru-s, the balance is to be eaten by us, the later generations of the Pithru-s. If Ekaadasi occurs on the annual of the Pithru, then what takes priority, is the question. Smaartha-s and Vaishnavite-s think that Pithru Karya takes precedence and so Ekaadasi Vratam is to be set aside. As we are doing something as per directions of the Veda-s, we are incurring no sin, is our view. But Madva-s are of the view that Ekaadasi takes precedence. They may postpone the Sraaddham to the next day and maintain the fast on Ekaadasi. The next day i.e., on Dwaadasi, Sraaddham that is to be done normally after 12 noon, is done very early in the morning, by the Madva-s!

46. During the mourning period after a death in the family (known as aasoucham) and or period of Theettu after a birth of a baby (known as soodakam), if Ekaadasi occurs, all sects are of the view that, the Ekaadasi fast will still be observed. During these periods all other fasts or Vratam, such as Soma Vaara Vratam, are defaulted.

(To be continued.)




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