Thursday, July 01, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 34 (Vol #4) Dated 01 July 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 34 (Vol #4) Dated 01 July 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 third para on page 204 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 updated constantly.)
237. Nalanda University had attained to its full growth by the 5th Century AD. In Bengal the dynasty of Paala (later spelt in English as Paul) came to power after another 300 years. On the Ganges river bank, on a hill feature known as Vikram Shila, Dharma Paala, a king of that period established a Buddhist Matalaya (Monastery) and Vidyashala. Many students came from all over North India and the Himalayan regions including Tibet. From here many Bikkus have gone to Tibet for missionary work. Many Buddhist literature including those on Tantra Saastra, were later on recovered from this University’s library. Even today, some otherwise rare books of Sanaatana Dharma are found in the Buddhist Monasteries of Tibet. The route was Dakshashila / Nalanda – Vikramshila – Tibet!
238. There have been many prominent towns where instructional courses in Hindu Saastraas, Vidyas, Sciences, Fine-Arts and Crafts have been conducted, due to accumulation of experts in those fields, from the olden times till recently. Out of such places Kaasi (also known as VaraNasi on the banks of the river Ganga in the North and Kanchipuram in the South have been famous! In the West, in the place of Gandhi’s birth Kathiyawar, Vallabi was another place of learning. Vikramaditya’s Ujjaini in Madya Bharath was another big Centre of Learning. In the East India that is in Bengal it was the Navadveep also known as Nadia, which was a famous Centre of Learning, where all Sanaatana Dharma Saastraas were taught. This place also suffered in the 13th century with the Muslim invasions, but revived later in the 15th century! While in the past it was well known for all Vidya-s of Vedic culture, in its later days it was mainly known for Tarka Saastra-s!
239. Wherever the education was with learning of Veda-s, instead of University like structure, these were mainly based on a number of Guru Kula-s co-located! Even before the advent of Buddhist and Jain Mata Sangha-s, there were huge Guru Kula-s. The 14 Vidya Sthana-s of the Vedic religion were being studied and expanded with more and more Bhashya-s and commentaries, being added to in every generation. The literature continued to be proliferating with new and new Epics, Dramas, new Saastra-s, Sciences and Disciplines! From the time of Alexander’s invasion, the cultural exchanges between Greco-Roman-Indian origins, later added by Persian and Arabic influences, the subject matters were being added to from generation to generation. So instead of one Guru with one or two assistants, bigger organizations were coming into being. Such expansion was not only in Buddhist and Jain set ups, but also in purely Vedic Guru Kula-s!
240. As the subjects and disciplines expanded, it was neither possible for a student to know all the subjects, nor was it necessary for all the students to put in the effort and time for all the subjects. So the subjects had to be classified as Basic, Optional and Specialization to different stream of students. That is how when Patanjali Maharshi was conducting classes in Chidambaram, there were a thousand students asking questions in multi various subjects. As he was an Avatara of Aadi Sesha with thousand heads, he asked for a curtain to be put between him and the students. Then with thousand heads he could answer each student personally, as the story goes!
241. New Religions and Big Educational Institutions. Still, only after the advent of Buddhism and Jainism, there was the necessity to spread new ideas, concepts and addition of ever new subjects of arts and sciences. It was then that there was considerable increase of large scale educational institutions. Prior to that, mostly there was only the Guru Kula method prevalent. There is another reason for the coming into being of large scale setups! While those who propagated the new religions may have been genuinely interested in expanding the people’s knowledge base, the aim was mainly to assist in conversions into their religions! What have we seen in the recent past? In the name of giving free education, there has been spreading of their religion and mass conversions by all these missionary schools! While our religion does not believe in conversions but inversion and looking into one’s own self, other religions believe that to assure a reserved seat in heaven, you have to convert as many as you can! Safety in numbers is the concept! That is why, when non-Vedic religions came into being from within this country also, bigger educational institutions evolved, I suppose!
242. Individual Environment. What is that individual environment? In our religion, the ancestors had arranged that the Brahmin would teach all castes, communities and sects, their trade and business nuances. He was not to stop at only the trade and technicalities of it, he was also meant to impart Dharma and Atma + Artam or Kshemam, to mean ‘righteousness and what is good for the inner self in each individual’! While doing so, the people of the fourth caste of the Sudra were not taught directly. As per the Varna Dharma of our religious arrangement, learning of Veda-s and various Daily and periodic Anushtaanaa-s were the job of the Brahmin only. Kshatriya and Vysya were entitled to learn some of the daily rituals including Gayatri mantra and wearing of Poonool. The fourth caste was not taught the Veda and Gayatri mantra-s. But they were taught many of the ideas, principles, concepts and inner meanings of Dharma Saastraa-s through Purana-s and Itihaasaas-s. They were made aware of all principles of justice and morals.
243. It was in Guru Kula, the main Veda teaching was done, alright. But, this teaching for the fourth Varna was not done in Guru Kula-s in a formal manner. After the mid-day meals, during the afternoon, other caste people used to come to the Guru Kula for consultancy. It was then that their doubts clarified and questions answered. More than these consultancy sessions from Aachaarya-s, Pouranik-s used to give general lectures in public places for the general consumption of the masses in the evenings. The point to note is that, this fourth caste was made up of people like, the farmer, fisher, potter, carpenter, hunter, weaver, shoe maker and so on. Their job was such that they had to get on with it from early morning. The best opportunity for their children to learn the trade was through ‘on the job training’! They could not have been coming to the Guru Kula to learn the Veda-s and such things! So for them their own house or the place of work was the school!
244. Then they had their own experts known as ‘Aachaary-s’. That is how there have been the name of Aachaary, which almost became a caste name, amongst carpenters, shilpi’s or metal or stone smiths and masons. Then wherever there was the Saastraa-s concerning their trade, there was some Brahmin qualified in their fields aware of the intricate nuances and subtleties of their trades!
(Please refer to Deivathin Kural #102 of (Vol 2) Dated 28 April 2008 and subsequent issues for greater understanding of this and next e-mail about how the people of the fourth Caste were not taught the Veda-s but were well informed about Dharma Saastraa-s and connected subjects!)
(To be continued.)



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