Wednesday, June 09, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 23 (Vol #4) Dated 09 June 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 23 (Vol #4) Dated 09 June 2010.

(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. Today we are proceeding from the second paragraph on page 140 of Vol 4 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.)
94. I have told you earlier that, to learn Vedas is Adhyayanam and to teach Vedas is Adhyaapanam. The teacher of Vedas is called the Adhyaapaka or Aachaarya. If he has learnt up to the level of Ghanam he is the Ghanapathi and the at end of such expertise, he becomes a Srotriyar. Then when he is learned in not only the text of the Vedas but also its meanings in detail with interpretations of its various shades of meanings, then he gets to be known as the Pravakta capable of doing the Pravachanam! After some number of years, there came into being Upaadyaaya as an assistant of the Aachaarya. The co-students of one Guru Kulam were known as ‘sa-brhmacharys’ and ‘sa-theerthyas’, like we say ‘the class mates’ in English.
95. After the education is completed up to some level in which the student will be able to go out into the world and earn a living, the Brhmachary may discontinue Adhyayanam with the permission of the Guru. At that time the student is required to give Guru Dakshina. It could be cattle, earth, gold, clothing, grains, vegetable, umbrella or foot-wear; whatever the disciple could afford to give! This is not to be a contractual arrangement from either side. If it becomes a transaction of money between them, then both of them were to be excluded from Brahminical Karmas, such as Sraaddam! If you take up teaching for the sake of earning, as I have stated before, you are no more an Aachaarya but an Upaadyaaya! When these schools enlarged out of the family circle and started including other branches (Shaaka) of the Vedas, Kshatriya and Vysya students started joining such establishments. Thus bigger Guru Kulams came into being.
96. Arts and Sciences of the Past. Thus the idea of Vidya from being a teaching of a devotional procedure for Atma Gnaana, started being expanded to include all types of knowledge of Arts, Crafts and Sciences; to be taught and learnt in Guru Kulams. When we come across a huge list of Samas / Vidyas, such as Gayatra, Rathanthara, Vamya Devya, Brihat, Vairupa, Vairaja, Shakvaree, Revati, Yagnya-Yagneeya, Rajana Samas and Madhu, Shandilya, Kosha, Purusha, Samvarga, Pancha Agni and Dahara Vidyas respectively in Chandogya Upanishad, one cannot help being surprised at the awesome enormity of the reach and range of the knowledge of our ancestors!
97. The same Chandogya Upanishad also talks about Narada’s disillutionment with himself and the world of education! Despite having learnt many Vidyas, as he had not practiced any particular line for Atma Gnaana, somehow Narada the great sage was in a quandary. He went to Sanat Kumara for some advice, as given in that Upanishad. Sanat Kumara asked him to list out the things that he has learnt already so that, he may take him forward from there. Narada replies listing out a whole lot of things as already known to him!
98. Here we are giving a short recap of Narada’s reply! The four Vedas, fifth Veda of Itihasa and PuraNas, grammer known as VyakaraNam, ‘pithryam’ concerning the Karya in honour of the departed ancestors, ‘Raasi’ of Mathematics, ‘Daivam’ that is the science of signs and omens, ‘Nidhi’ that is Economics, ‘Vacho Vakyam’ or ‘Tarkam’ that is the science of debate / arguments / logic; ‘Ekayanam’ / Statemanship and Diplomacy, Deva Vidya that is ‘Niruktam’ or Etymology, Siksha on the correct pronunciation of the Veda Mantras, ‘Bootha Vidya’ that is Biology, Kshatra Vidya of Tactics and Strategy, Nkashatra Vidya which combines in itself both Astronomy and Astrology, Antidote for poisons known as ‘Sarpa Vidya’, ‘Deva – Jana Vidya’ on what is common to the divine beings and human beings such as Sangeetha, Natya and Shilpa Saastraas, Vaidya Saastra on diagnosis, prognosis, medicines, herbs and dieting. Thus Narada talks of many such courses of instructions that he already knew!
99. Narada was endowed with super human capabilities. So he could master so many subjects! Despite all that, he was not happy. He was not having a sense of fulfilment. So he approached Sanat Kumara for Brhma Gnaana! The point I am making here is that, even when this Chandogya Upanishad came into being, the world, at least the Indian world had gone far ahead in many fields of human knowledge! By then there must have been many experts of a vast array of subjects! There must have been university like institutions aplenty. Rabindranath Tagore’s Shanti Niketan came into being in the 20th Century on the lines of such Forest Universities!
100. Despite all that Narada was not contented! The lack of Atma Gnaana as far as Narada was concerned, was a gap yet to be filled! Generally all the student community of those days would not have felt similarly. Though mostly all avenues of Vidya were related to Atma Gnaana / Self / God realization; every student was not pushed out towards such esoteric subjects from say day one! Though intellectually everyone was tought some of that knowledge, everyone was not expected to know all that, in an experiential way! There was no such impractical compulsion. After completion education up to a certain level, he was expected to go through life as a married man with a family and children as a Gruhasta or householder. Having contributed his bit for the society, and cleared his debt towards his ancestors and Devatas through responsible fulfilment of Karmas, he was supposed to become matured and refined for Atma Gnaana through the Ashramas of Vana Prastha (gradual retirement from worldly affairs, including moving into self created old age homes in the forests) and Sanyasa (of total renunciation except for ashtanga yoga of merging into divinity!) That was the way of the Saastraas and the educational system was in consonance with that.
101. Dharmam and Brhmam are not only two similar sounding words, but the former enables understanding, comprehension and attainment of the latter! Dharmam makes our this worldly life orderly, deterring our tendency to go astray. A normal human being just cannot be corrupt and hope to be fluking into understanding, comprehension and attainment of (U.C.A. for short) of the Brhmam! In our system, Poorva Meemamsai is there, so that through Karma Marga, you do things judiciously, morally correctly as required by the Aachaaraas, as per the Saastraas. Thus you graduate into the level where you start asking the correct questions (about God and the purpose of Life) and also start getting the right answers! (This is actually what should be known as Graduation and not passing from the LKG to the UKG!)
102. Then you start asking questions such as, “What is this life about? What is it’s purpose? Who is God? What is his relationship to human beings in general and to me in particular?” That is Uttara Meemamsai also known as Vedantam! There is no short cut here. If someone seems to have cut short the procedure, it only means that our data about that person in incomplete!
102. As Narada was an extra ordinary individual, despite being educated about a vast array of subjects, he was not satisfied with that and felt the need for U.C.A. of Brhmam. He jumped from being a Brhmachary to Brhma Gnaana, short circuiting the need for going through Gruhastam, Vana Prastam and Sanyasam!
103. Let Narada’s story be aside. He was anyhow an exceptionally rare individual. But the main point to note is that, a simple normal common man was effectively encouraged not to go astray and prevented from deviating from the path of Dharma, by what was the system of education those days. There was an automatic allure and attraction towards devotion, towards divinity and matters self ennobling! I talked about how it grew over time.
(To be continued.)



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