Saturday, July 31, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 49 (Vol #4) Dated 31 July 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 49 (Vol #4) Dated 31 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 second para on page number 275 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)

382. As I said before, in these educational institutions of Buddhists and Jains, it was Brahmins and Kshatriyas who joined in greater numbers. Other caste people, till very recently used to have practical on the job training basically. They used to know all the important points about their profession in a poetic form. We do not know as to who were the authors of these poems, as these have been going on for so many hundreds of years. If you go to a ‘Nattu Vaidyar’ in some of the villages in Tamil Nadu, he will rattle out a song listing out the names of herbs, method of its recognition, procedure for the preparation of the medicine and the details of the diseases for which those medicines may be given. Similarly the Sthapathy who is a master of the art of stone carving, will tell us a poem covering all the intricacies of his art! Till recently, if you ask a villager as to whether he knows how to ‘read and write’ he is likely to reply in the negative! But when it comes to a question about his profession, he is likely to know much more intricate details than an engineering graduate in the same discipline! Some amongst them may know how to read and some of them may not even know how to read! But they would all know that poem completely and if prompted, can give you a guided tour of the intricacies of their profession quite nicely! Though they may not have a phenomenal memory, since they would not be burdened by unwanted gossip, they would have a sufficiently sharp memory power.
383. What I said is a generalization. Not all Brahmin boys are likely to be very sharp either. There are some dullards amongst them too! There have also been some brilliant brains in the other castes certainly. As you know exceptions always prove the rule! After the advent of these Buddhist and Jain educational institutions, education came to mean what is done through the written media. There is one more reason for this change. The world was changing and changing faster. There were more disciplines of studies in arts and sciences, being added day by day! However much a brilliant brain you may have, everything just could not be kept only in memory. The written script was playing a major role in the education!
384. University for Vedic Studies. When the Buddhists and Jains started those huge institutions, the mother religion of India could not just lack behind. There was an awakening as though. With Vedic subjects, big centres for learning were started by Hindus also. When the going gets tough the tough get going they say! When agnostic propaganda becomes noticeable, there is always a revival of religious awareness!
All over the world, one of the greatest problems of Religion is not the Religion per se! It is the fact that majority of its followers are those who are non-practicing, not understanding, blind followers who are of that religion by birth, in name sake only. They love their own religion because it is their own and hate others’ because it is not theirs’!
385. Similarly, when Buddhism and Jainism came into being, those Hindu Brahmins who were neither having any devotion towards God nor were practicing any of the required procedures, but were simply lounging about lazily, were shaken out of their stupor! This we have seen even these days! When agnostic propaganda picked up with Brahmin baiting, it paved the way for some awakening amongst the Hindu masses too, here in the South. There were suddenly more Kumba Abhisheka-s, conduct of Pravachanam-s, Bhajan-s and Satsang-s. Every household too started some sort of devotional rituals and observance of Vratam-s of abnegations! Similarly when the Brahmin community had lost some of their grip with their functioning, Buddha came into being condemning their ways and conduct of rituals, giving raise to these educational institutions, waking up the Hindus virtually. Both in purely Vaidic matters and non-Vaidic subjects, big educational institutions came into being! There was an overall growth in philosophical Saastraa-s, literature, arts and sciences.
386. The Hindu Sanaatana Dharma had grown from strength to strength over millennia without the support of organizations, only by the individual’s power of their practices. But when Buddhism and Jainism grew on the basis of organizational power, there was a dire need for combined effort of groups in this religion too. It was felt that individual Guru Kulam-s run by single religious teachers was considered grossly inadequate. With Veda Vidya-s, it was considered necessary to include other arts and sciences with a team of instructors. Such schools in the North were known as ‘Dhols’. The elementary teaching was done in ‘Patashaala-s’ while these ‘Dhols’ catered for subjects such as grammer, classic literature, astrology and other religious subjects. They were run by religiously oriented organizations. The time when salary or wages were never considered as necessary and the teacher was satisfied with whatever the disciple gave as Guru Dakshina was finished! Either the King or local landlord ran such schools with endowment or grants, from which the teachers were paid. (These kingly grants known as ‘Raja Manyam’ was meant for not only the teachers known as ‘Upaadhyaaya’, but was available for the pot maker, launderer, the pujari for the village deity and so on, for whomsoever was taking care of the traditional business of his family!)
387. The practice till then in the Guru Kula was for the disciple to beg in the village and whatever he so gathered, he used to deliver it to the Guru’s wife. She also would have cooked at home. If the material gathered by the disciple was uncooked, it may get added to what was in store in the house. Cooked food used to be added to the material meant for the students. The Guru being a householder himself was not entitled to get the cooked food from other’s houses. The villagers gave the alms as a contribution for running of the educational institution of the Guru Kulam. For this the Kings or local leaders used to cater for special funds or allot the produce from some specified lands as a regular source of revenue! It is this income that enabled the Guru to conduct Yaagaa-s and Yagnaa-s. The wife of Guru known as ‘Rishi Patny’, used to feed the disciple as well as he would be taken care of at his own home, with as much loving care! As the child student the disciple has surrendered himself, by heart, body and mind; the Guru and Guru Patny, would take care of the students’ physical, mental and spiritual needs! On special days, he would be given specially prepared snacks or cookies or fresh clothes too! This situation gave way to, the Guru taking the pay for himself and in turn only imparting knowledge to the student, when bigger institutions came into being. This was an unavoidable change with times! As the number of subject matter increased, student population increased, number of teachers and classes and pooling of efforts had to increase. This led to a scaling down of standards of the Guru Kula system, which was already shaken up by the spread of other religions!
388. But still, we cannot think of these educational institutions as worse as what is obtaining nowadays. These were also like the Guru Kula system only, slightly modified! These students were not day scholars. The teachers and students stayed together in such educational institutions. Each teacher had a set of students under him. He was the class teacher and the warden too. Comparatively what is obtaining nowadays in the hostels is too loose with hardly any control.
(To be continued.)



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