Sunday, June 13, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 25 (Vol #4) Dated 13 June 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 25 (Vol #4) Dated 13 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 151 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.)
“EpporuL Yaar Vaayk Ketpinum”

121. In the olden times education was kept apart from any connection to the caste. This can be gleaned from one particular principle. To learn or gain knowledge was considered much more important than the source of such knowledge! People of one caste, if they were interested in learning about something not known to them or some art or capability, the knowledge of which was lost over time, could relearn the same from anybody else irrespective of his caste!
122. Any fine art or culture or value item including a classic variety of a woman, can be obtained from any other caste. In the case of a woman as the matter is likely to become complicated with a clash of egos that was normally kept within the caste and that too only with the willingness of the woman concerned. For all other matters of knowledge about Dharma and Vidya, any one could get it from anyone else and get their doubts clarified, irrespective of the caste!
123. Dharma that is the morally correct action at all times comes from knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. So normally knowledge is supportive of prudent action only. Say by chance if the entire Brahmin intelligentsia in an area is wiped out, even in such a situation, a Brahmin could learn the Vedas from a Kshatriya or Vaisya, if he is knowledgeable about it, says Manu! Thiru VaLLuvar puts it slightly differently as, “epporuL yaar vaayk ketpinum apporuL meipporuL kaNbadu arivu”! It means that, ‘whatever you hear from anyone, try and find the true meaning or import of it –that is prudence’!
124. That means that no education or coaching or teaching can be set aside as useless. No Vidya by itself is bad. You can always learn something new. There is no end to learning. If you can learn something good from some worthy examples, you can always learn what not to do from bad examples! Instead of looking down on the person teaching us something, his or her dress, manners and demeanour, we should pay more attention to the intrinsic material that is being communicated! These two ideas of giving attention to the message than the messenger and ever being prepared to learn have always been emphasised in our Saastraas!
125. Another matter. There were people of even the fourth VarNa or caste, who were capable of instructing the very learned Brahmins! If Saastraas themselves are instructing the Brahmins to go to the people of the fourth VarNa and learn, we gather further that, they were not kept in absolute darkness, as is being claimed! Though they were not given direct instructions on learning of the Vedas, they were well tutored in subtle points and nuances of their own profession and intricate points of Dharma and Gnaana! Because there was substantial number of such well qualified persons on these issues, amongst people of the fourth VarNa, some not so well qualified brahmins had to approach them for their views on various issues.
126. There is one striking example for this in the way the PuraNas were conveyed to all! Veda Vyasa having organized the Vedas in to four main groups propagated them through Brahmins. As far as the PuraNas were concerned, he got them conveyed through RomaharshaNa Suta a non-brahmin! The Rishis of NaimisaraNya forest, who were mainly Brahmins respected him properly, seated him on a high pedestal and listened from him all the PuraNas!
127. Period of Instructions. Now-a-days in Veda Patashaalaas, it has become customary to run a 12 years course of instruction to become a Ghanapaathi. Then to learn the Bhashyas and get to know the meaning, another eight years of study is required. In olden times depending on the student’s grasp and his wish to practice by reiteration, the tenure was varied. Generally 12 years was considered to be adequate. There have been courses run for a minimum of 9 years or 12, 18 and 36 year courses have been there.
128. From Manu Smruthi it is revealed that there were some who went on to learn and continued to do so, throughout their life time! If he so wishes, students were permitted by Dharma Saastraas to continue as a celibate brhmachari throughout, without ever taking up Gruhastam! Not all were permitted to do so. This was normally permitted only if the Guru found the student to be suitable for such eventuality, having the right attitude and aptitude, after due testing. Such a person was known as ‘Naishtika Brhmachari’!
129. Each year was divided into two terms of five and seven months each, known as ‘Upaakarma’ and ‘Utsarjana’ (or ‘Utsarga’), respectively. Upaakarma is likely to remind, at least some of you about the day every year, when we wear a new Poonool in AavaNi Aavittam! For the Rik Vedees, that is followers of Rik Veda, this is in the month of SravaNa, which is the period Aadi Amavasya to AavaNi Amavasya. SravaNa in Tamil becomes AavaNi. For Yajur Vedees, that is followers of Yajur Veda, the full moon in the month of SravaNa/AavaNi, is Upaakarma. Rik Vedees decide on the Upaakarma date based on the day of the predominant star of the galaxy and Yajur Vedees go by the PourNami or full moon titi! (Titi is the day after New Moon or Full Moon as the first as ‘prathama’, ‘dwiteeya’ and so on, in an ascending order till the fortnight is completed on chathurdasi the 14th.)
130. In further olden times the full moon in the month of SravaNa used to happen on the same day as the SravaNa star. That is how the month got its name. So whatever the Veda that you belong to, the Upaakarma day was the same for all and so was the start of the term in studies. Later things changed and the date of the full moon and the star did not match. Yajur Vedees went by the titi of PourNami, which could be in a different star that is Avittam. This came to be known as ‘AvaNi Avittam’!
131. Rik Vedees still stick to the star SravaNa and not look at the titi. There are occasions even now when the PourNami in the month of SravaNa occurs on the star SravaNa itself! On that day both Rik and Yajur Vedees have their ‘Upaakarma’ of wearing a new Poonool. The Saama Vedees conduct their Upaakarma one month later in the Baadrapada month in the star of Hastha , which is normally either PiLLaiyar Chathurthi or a day prior to that or later. Normally star Hastham and Panchami titi if falling on the same day, it is supposed to be more sacred. In earlier times when the SravaNa star and PourNami used to occur on the same day, this Hastha Panchami used to happen on the day after PiLLaiyar Chathurthi!
132. Upaakarma is an unknown word now-a-days. Many people may not even know as to which Veda they belong to! Those who know also, know only to the extent that their dirty old PooNool is to be changed for a fresh one on AavaNi Aavittam! In fact this change of PooNool on that day is only a small part of the whole ritual! Talking about the term of education in the Veda Pathashalas, this Upakarma will be start of a term extending to the next five to six months approximately. In this term the Aachaarya will teach the basic Vedas repeated by the disciples. During this period they will be learning the Sruthi of Vedasamhitai, BrahmaNam, AaraNyakam and Upanishads. This will continue till the month of Pushya, that is the Tamil month of ‘Thai’. At that time a Karma known as ‘Utsarjana’ or ‘Visarjana’, will be done on the full moon of the month of Pushyam or the RohiNi star prior to that PourNami.
133. Saama Vedees have a slightly different schedule. Their Upaakarma itself starts in Purattasi and end in Maagha PourNami that comes 15 days after Thai Amavasai. The next roughly six months between Utsarjana and next Upaakarma, will be spent in learning Sikshai, VyakaraNam, Chandas, Niruktam, Jyotisham, Kalpam and such subjects. This is the period from around Jan 15th till the next Upaakarma around August!
(To be continued.)



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