Thursday, September 23, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 76 (Vol #4) Dated 23 Sep 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 76 (Vol #4) Dated 23 Sep 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 413 of Vol 4 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that here in 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated constantly)
36. These days the whole country is divided into States, Districts, and Tehsils which is further divided into so many wards. In earlier times, each city and village was divided into so many ‘Kutumbs’. Some 50 years before Uttara Merur edicts there is a first Aditya Sozha edict on stone at a place known as Chandra Lekha, Chaturvedi Mangalam, dividing that Oor into so many ‘Kutumbs’. The Graama Sabha was made up of a representative each from these ‘Kutumbs’. These reps (short for representatives), were members of the Oor Sabha. They were not detailed by King or any agent of the government but, elected! Neither was the membership by a hereditary lien nor an appointment by the government. There was something like a voting done and people selected based on that voting. It was not universal franchise. If you ask me as what it was, I will tell you about that a little later. There is more pleasure in making you wait for the truth. So, wait!
37. The details of how they are to elect the members of the Sabha is given not only in the edicts etched on stone at Uttara Merur but also in many copper plates and inscriptions on stone available in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. In Mayavaram Taluqua there is a village called Thalaignairu, where there is a temple of Siva known as, ‘Kurtram Porutteeswarar’, meaning the ‘God who tolerates defaults’! As though to emphasise the point that errors of commission and omission are tolerated only in the private life of individuals and not in public life; there is a stone carving of the Sozha period. It says that the members to be elected should have a certain minimum age; should not have served earlier within certain number of years and should not be related to any existing members who have served in that capacity within certain number of years! This edict is also on the same style as that of the one at Uttara Merur.
38. There are many stone carvings on orders by Uttama Sozhan, Sundara Sozhan, First Rajarajan, First Rajendran, First Kuloththungan and others, talking about governing of Oors and Villages. There are also copper plates known as ‘Anbil Plates and Leyden Plates’ on the same subject. But the Uttara Merur Saasanams are most exhaustive, covering the entire subject of how these elections are to be held! To be more precise, there are two Saasanams in Uttara Merur itself. One is earlier and the second one two years later. The first one is in brief and the second one which is more elaborate and also more famous. It is that one that I am going to talk about in detail. This edict on stone is by Parandaka Sozhan and is dated 920 A.D. It comprehensively covers all that is given in bits and pieces in all the other stone carvings and copper plates!
39. If there was any complaint or failure in public service, to investigate and correct the system the Sozha Raja (or for that matter any king), used to send his reps. Thus this King Parandakan in short, otherwise known as Veera NarayaNa Parandaka Deva Parakesari Varma Sozha Maharaja, had sent one official by the name of Dattanur Moovenda VeLaan and after two years had sent another official by the name of Srivanga Nagar Somasi Kramavitta Bhattan; for correcting the procedures for elections and reforming them. The procedure as evolved by these two officials was the main subject matter in the two stone carvings. You can make out that the procedure for election of the Oor Paripalana Sabha had been worked out by the very people so involved, which formed the main thrust of the Uttara Merur stone Carving Saasanams, as supervised and approved by these two officials.
40. Brahmin and Agriculturist Officials. Amongst these two officials, one is VeLaan, who evidently is from the agricultural community. ‘Somasi’, ‘Kramavittan’ and ‘Bhattan’ are all indicating a man from the Brahmin community. Somasi is not a eatable snack! In Sundara Murthy Naayanaar’s life there is a character by that name as, ‘Somasi Maara Naayanaar’ who is one of the 63 revered devotees of Siva. Someone who has conducted the Soma Yaaga is called Somayyaji which in Tamil becomes Somasi! Kramavittan is someone who has learnt the Vedas up to the level of ‘Krama Paata’. In the various methods of committing the Veda mantras to memory, we have VarNam, Kramam, Jadai and Ghanam. Ghanam is the final level after which the person is called Ghana Paati. Jada Vallabha is short of it and Krama Vit is a step further short of it. So Kramavittan is the one who has studied up to the Krama level. In many of the stone carvings by Sera, Sozha and Pandya kingdoms, we come across many a mention of this word ‘Kramavittar’! From this we can gather that there were many learned Brahmins all over Tamil Nadu. Bhattar, Ayyar, Sastry and Sarma are all names of Brahmins. Kshatriya used to be called Varma or Verma; Vysyas were known as Gupta or Chettiyar and the fourth caste people were generally called Daasa. Bhattar of Tamil Nadu is the same as Maharashtrian Bhattoji, Bhat of Mangalore and Bhattacharya of Bengal; all indicating Brahmins. Here one VeLaan of the fourth caste and one Bhattan of the Brahmins were the important reps from the King, as may be noted.
41. From Uttara Merur inscriptions, we get to know the qualitative requirements of people desirous of standing for being elected to Oor Sabha. These are as described hereinafter:-
(a) He should be the owner of at least a quarter Veli of land (a measurement of land as applicable those days approximately an acre), for which he should be paying tax. (The language used in the Saasanam is, “kaanilaththukku mel irai nilamudaiyaan”. Irai means cess.)
(b) He should be having his own house in his land. (The Saasanam says that “Than manaile agam eduththuk kondu iruppaan”).
(c) He should not be older than 60 and not less than 30, says the first inscription. After two years, this has been amended to read, “Not more than 70 and not less than 35”. This is also evident that after some experience these rules were reconsidered and amended.
42. While talking about amendments, we have to pay attention to another aspect. These rules should not be amended so as to enable the rule makers to become corrupt and selfish. Initially they may not be interested in gaining any extra advantage for themselves or their own caste or community over others and later the very power to amend could lead to becoming corrupt. In this matter, in all the regions in any part of India, it was the Dharma Saastra that was like the enacted Constitution of India. Amongst them all, it was Manu Needhi Saastram that was very clearly the main guide line as though. Wherever and whenever a king has been praised in any classical literature or edict in stone or copper plates, uniformly and invariably we find the phrase that, ‘He did not deviate from the strictures of Manu Needhi Saastra’! There were no amendments to that basic authority!
43. Manu Dharma Saastra is all about fairness and righteousness in all possible human, animal and material inter actions of life. In it the society is divided into many parts that talks about their effective functioning with the main aim of establishing a fair and equitable, morally upright atmosphere. The aim of the Dharma Saastra is to ensure both in individual life and in the social life of communities and the nation as a whole, the establishment of Dharma as a living thing. Dharma is all encompassing, inclusive of the concepts of fairness, equity, justness, righteousness, judiciousness, rectitude and virtue. All other ideas were secondary or tertiary to the requirements of Dharma. Our ancients were of the opinion that the very existence of the individual human beings has to be based on the bedrock of this one principle.
(To be continued.)



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