Monday, March 31, 2014

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 126 (Vol # 7) Dated 30 Mar 2014

 DEIVATHIN KURAL # 126 (Vol # 7) Dated 30 Mar 2014

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL of Kanchi Kaamakoti 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 going ahead from the middle of page No 969 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated continually)

109.                  The statement made by the one doing Namaskãra for the hearing of the one being respected is known as Abhivãdanam.  In it, the person introducing himself, tells the elder, his name and the tradition to which he belongs in terms of ancestors and the branch of the Vedas that they are well versed in.  Manu, the ancient proponent of Laws of Dharma says that, "When someone elder than yourself, approaches you, your PrãNa will come up and try to get out.  At that time if he gets up and respectfully welcomes the visitor and does Abhivãdanam, this PrãNa that ventured out returns unto him and steadies itself". 
ऊर्ध्वं प्राणा ह्युत्क्रमन्ति यून: स्तविर आयति |
oordvam prãNa hyutkrãmanti yuna: stavira ãyati |
प्रत्युत्थानाभिवादाभ्यां पुनस्तान् प्रतिपध्यते || 
pratyutthãnãbhivãdabhyaam punastthãn pratipadyate ||

110.                  Here the sloka is talking about when the youngster is sitting down or lying and an elder happens to pass by.  Manu Smruti and all other Dharma Sãstrãs too have emphasised the necessity of good behaviour to be respectful to all elders.  First is Namaskãram.  Then you have to get up, put both your palms around the ears, touching the right ear with the right hand and left ear with the left hand, you have to formally introduce yourself to the elder, narrating the text of Abhivãdanam.  You have to touch your ears as they are the sensory organs receiving the sounds of the highest of Pancha Boothas, the Ãkãsa.  After that the two hands have to be removed from the ears and touch the knees sliding down to the ankles.

111.                  The act of standing and bending forward displays the sense of 'PaNivu'.  The one who had done Namaskãr by falling flat on the ground, instead of standing erect, when he bends his body, the humbleness is underlined.  The hands from the ears sliding from the knees to the ankles, is indicative of total surrendering of the whole body and person.  I told you the importance of the ears already, of hearing the 'sound', the 'tanmatra' of the Ãkãsa.  The one to hear the Upadesa of the elder are also the ears only.  Other than these reasons, the whole series of actions put together from going down to do the Namaskãra to the getting up, saying Abhivãdanam and then moving the hands from touching the ears, sliding them down along the sides to the knees to the ankles; is an exercise in Yogãbhyãsa, energising the nerve ends all over the body, contributing to the cleansing of the mind called 'Chitta Shuddhi'!  This Yogãbhyãsa can be said to have in itself the idea of total surrender of the body and mind of the person doing it, to the elder to whom the gesture is addressed to.  Finally he has to touch the elder's feet with his hands.

112.                  If you are going to pose a question as to why should the feet of the elder be touched, I cannot give a logical reply.  This is a natural expression of devotion and humility, of touching the feet of the person, to whom respect is shown.  In this gesture are included our Vinaya, PaNivu and Adakkam completely.  To treat him as a very respectable person, whomsoever we are doing Namaskãra to, as representing God or as a conduit to God thereby to touch the flow of Easwara Anugraha through him, this touching of his feet is an 'electrical circuit' related to the Ãtma.  In our South India this touching scene remains only as a gesture, short of really touching physically, in practice.  There is a reason for this.  The one who is not very 'madi' – 'மடி', that is, not maintaining certain required standards of cleanliness, that too a youngster, to touch an elder who is maintaining such standards of 'Soucham' – 'सौचं', is just not done.  Let this 'madi' and 'soucham' matter be set aside.  That physical touch may be avoided as, to some extent our physical and mental predilections could affect the one to whom we are respectfully demonstrating our obeisance.  Why not spare him from them?  Like electric current, these things can be passed on to the other by that touch, as even confirmed by modern scientists.

113.                  More than all this about 'Madi' and 'Soucham'; there is the effect of Karma.  Whomsoever we are paying our obeisance to, if he happens to be a kind hearted being, our negative Pãpa Karma could pass on to him, making him partake some of the negativity and suffer on our behalf.  If he is so highly evolved, with Gnãnãgni or Shakti of Tapasya or Yoga or some such power, it may just cauterize the negativity from us.  But such people are rare.  We do not know much about the other person's inner evolution anyhow.  We are demonstrating our respect to him and why not spare him from our accumulations of negativity?  So it is better to make believe as though we are touching that other person's feet and that will do most sufficiently! 

114.                  If your devotion is so overwhelming that in the process if you happen to touch that masters feet or even catch hold of the same in the intensity of your feelings, it is alright.  That intensity of devotion itself will compensate for and annul all negativities, smudges and Doshas.  But such true devotion is a rare thing.  We should not mistake some temporary outbursts of emotions as the real thing.  So the basic self-discipline should be not to touch, which is good for him as well as for us.  We do Namaskãra seeking his blessings isn't it?  To such a person, we should not be adding our negativities and bad luck isn't it?  It is one thing to do so accidentally and unknowingly.  From now, since I have told you, you cannot even say that you were not aware of this.  From now, if you touch the elder to whom you are doing Namaskãr, it will be a crime and an offence and you will be missing out on the Asirvadam and Anugraha from that elder also!

115.                  However much he may be evolved and refined, even if capable of cauterizing others residual negativities, such Sanyãsis who are also heads of institutions such as this Matam, have to be like Role-Models for following the rules of Madi, Achãram and Soucham themselves for others to emulate and learn by observations.  This touching of their feet by visitors will be contrary and inconvenient and even embarrassing at times and become a hindrance in their role playing.  So the best option is for the one to make a gesture as though he is touching the feet of the elder and refrain from actually touching.  With that, as I said earlier the Blessings of the elder will flow into the person doing the Namaskãra. 

116.                  If your intentions are noble, that very attitude is more powerful than the action.  That is what is known as 'Bhãva' – 'भाव' and God is known as 'bhãva grãhi' – 'भाव ग्राहि', receiver of intentions and not the outer show – 'bãhya grãhi' – 'बाह्य ग्राहि'. With a chuckle PeriyavãL says, we have misused the word 'Bhãvana' to bring it down in meaning to just play acting or what we call a parody.  I do not mean that.  With the genuine regret that we are not really able to touch that noble man's feet, increasing one's regards and humbleness, as an indication of that, to make a move as though touching those feet while not touching them actually, is to do so in Bhãvana!  Thus with such fervour to touch the ground a few inches from where his feet are actually, is to thereby draw unto ourselves his blessings.  Whether that gentleman so blesses us or is not even looking in our direction, by our sincerity and genuine Bhãvana, the God in him – Easwara – NãrãyaNa – will certainly bless, I am sure. 

117.                  As we keep the right and left hand around the right and left ear respectively, when touching the feet of that gentleman in front, that is doing it symbolically, we should be crossing our hands as his right and left are opposite of ours like in an image in a mirror.  But instead of doing so people are only extending their hands directly in front without crossing.  That is not what is given in the Sãstrãs, that is Manu Smruti 2.72 – 'swayena savya: samprashtavyo dakshiNena cha DakshiNa:' – 'स्वयेन सव्य: संप्रष्टव्यो दक्षिणेन च दक्षिण:'.  In one book it says 'kartareemiva' meaning that our hands should be going crosswise like in a scissor. 

118.                  Let me now tell you a little about the text of the Abhivãdanam.  In telling the Abhivãdana mantra, first there will be the name of the Gothram in which the person is born, which is like a family name.  Then the first three Rishis of that particular lineage will be mentioned.  That is known as 'Pravaram'.  The Rishis are those who have discovered a new Mantra from the vast spaces of Ãkãsa and given it to the people of the world.  'Angirasa' Gothram is in the name of the first such Rishis in that lineage.  'Koundinya' Gothram on the other is named after the third Rishi of that lineage.  There are some exceptions to it and we are not discussing it here.  Point to note is that in Abhivãdanam, first there will be Pravaram in which the names of the first three Rishis of that lineage will be mentioned.
(To be continued.)



Saturday, March 29, 2014

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 125 (Vol # 7) Dated 28 Mar 2014

 DEIVATHIN KURAL # 125 (Vol # 7) Dated 28 Mar 2014

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL of Kanchi Kaamakoti 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 going ahead from the middle of page No 960 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated continually)

98.           To go on your knees while praying to God is a common habit of Christians and Muslims.  In our religious practice too, whether you do Sãshtãnga or Panchãnga Namaskãra, it may look as though you have to get down on your knees.  But we do it slightly differently while doing Ashtãnga Namaskãra by placing one leg forward, then putting both your hands on the ground and then extending the leg in front also to the rear.  For Panchãnga Namaskãr of course you do go down on your knees while placing both the arms palms down on the ground.   Then among Muslims there is a method of greeting known as 'Salãm' and Christians Salute, both starting with 'Sal'!  It is so pleasing to note such commonality between people from all over the world in this one act of expressing one's respect to others.  To add up to the oneness, here in this Matam we have a ritual known as 'Deevatti Salãm', conducted every day!  At the time of lighting up the lamps in the evening, to celebrate our ÃchãryãL who came amongst us human beings like a leading light for the whole world.  At that time we do Namaskãra to his 'pãdukayen' – 'पादुकायें' aka foot-wear and submit the day's accounts to him, that is known as 'Deepa Namaskãram'.  After the accounts have been submitted, the Elephant in the keep of the Matam will lift the ornamental fan known as Chãmaram and wave the same.  Then it will lift its trunk high overhead and make its characteristic call of trumpeting as though saluting.  This whole event is known traditionally as 'Deevatti Salãm'.

99.          Though in other countries there is one handed salute, in our Sãstrãs it is very clearly forbidden –'eka hasta prNãmaschha hanti puNyam purãdanam,' –'एक हस्त प्रणामस्च हन्ति पुण्यं पुराधनं', meaning that doing Namaskãra with one hand will erase all merits earned earlier.  The same Sãstrã, which says that if done properly Namaskãra can save even a sinner, warns against improper method of doing it thus.  In our country also there are rules about saluting the constitution and National Flag.  To get offended against such procedures and if we say that 'I will do it in my own way', what will be the end result.  The rules and regulations are meant to be obeyed if any organization or society or a country is to pull together.

100.        The matter of army and police is different.  There the requirement is the readiness to give one's life for the upkeep of the Nations honour.  To work for law and order in the nation and protection of the country against aggression from outside being the purpose, we have to persevere for fearlessness and physical fitness in both body and mind.  So, there the body language is one of standing like a ram-rod, like the soldiers presenting a Guard of Honour.  Instead of the one handed salute, if we can find after a detailed search, some other bodily sign which combines in itself valour and respect, to be displayed as a drill by the soldiers of our nation, I would prefer that.  But one thing is not to be forgotten that, for courageousness to be bodily displayed, rigour and tightness are required.  Since that courageousness is for the Nation's welfare, it has to be permitted. 

101.        Since the dress one wears helps in this, the security guards in this Matam also are wearing police-like dresses only.  In the name of nationality and some other such thing we should not be doing anything contrary to the requirements of security.  In the other religions too, a Salute or Salãm has been indicating obedience and abidance with some bending of at least the right hand, isn't it?  Muslims while doing Salãm do bend their head and body to some extent.  Only in Salute it is crisp, brisk and straight.  Christians have the tradition of kneeling only before God / Jesus Christ and Royalty.  For all others senior in rank or status it is salute only. 

102.        As I said earlier the Military Man and the Police Man while saluting not only do not bend, but also stand ram-rod straight!  Then at the top of his voice orders his comrades-in-arms to come to 'Attention', banging his boots on the ground and smartly saluting, which will look like orders of command than an expression of respect and homage!  But, undoubtedly it is respect being shown.  As they are not to give-in the slightest in their strictness in being prepared to give even their life in maintaining law and order and protecting the nation's well-being, discipline, rigour and name; even when displaying their respect they do it so vigorously.  Though they are most obedient and respectful towards their seniors, their display of respect is so exuberant and that is how it is meant to be.  Even their 'bhavyam' – 'भव्यं' need not be the normal one as for others full of humility, but required to be robust and that is the rule!

103.           But, generally unlike the above example of soldiers, for all others, the body language should reflect the inner deference and compliance, without any contradiction between the inner and outer for the expression to be effective.   To bend your head, bow your body and kneel down are all those outer indication of inner submissiveness.  But in Danda/Sãshtãnga Namaskãram about which I have been talking about all this time, though you are flat on the ground, this aspect of soft compliance does not seem to be there at all except for the fact that they have gone down on the ground.  When we think as to why it is so, another exalted principle occurs to my mind.  If we are handing over our minds to the person we are being respectful to bend it the way he pleases; we show our respect in a pliant manner.  But when we have no mind of our own and are simply annulling it or just throwing it away, then this letting our body to lie in front of the person being venerated, to lie before him like a stick or a piece of wood – this body of ours, there is a lot of sense in the action of Namaskãra, that we do as per our tradition.  All said and done, in all these actions of Ashtãnga or Panchãnga Namaskãra or Salute or Salãm; the inner attitude is one of Submission / Obedience / Obeisance, to be compliantly agreeable!

Obedience & Sushrusha
104.  Here also we note the oneness of people's minds, thought processes and actions.  Obedience is a word that derives from the verb 'to obey'.  The Latin root of this word means 'to listen carefully'.  Sushrusha is a Sanskrit word reminding us of Sanskrit scholar Sushruta, an ancient master physician cum surgical specialist who advocated the art and science of Ayurveda, as an expert in surgery and patients care.  In Guru Sishya relationship the most important duty of a disciple is 'Guru Sushrusha, the direct meaning of the word being 'to carefully listen' and absorb what the Guru says!  These two words in different contexts mean the same thing as 'paNividai' – 'பணிவிடை' in Tamil, which once again mean, 'to carefully listen to what is being said and act accordingly'.  The doctor has to listen to the patient, then ask probing questions and then fully understand the problem before prescribing the medicines for the illness indicated.  So also the student has to carefully listen to the teacher and understand accordingly.  Thus obedience is said to be 'keezh padidal' – 'கீழ் படிதல்' in Tamil and it occurs to me that, to lay down your body with respect on the ground in front of a respectable elder is this Sãshtãnga Namaskãra, which is once again the same as 'கீழ் படிதல்'. 

105.            Sri Krishna places all these ideas in that order in 'Gita (4.34), telling Arjuna as to how he is to learn from a Gnãni who is a Guru. 
तत्विद्धि प्रणिपातेन परिप्रश्नेन सेवया  |
tadviddhi praNipaatena pariprasnena |
उपदेक्ष्यन्ति ते ज्ञानं ज्ञानिनस्तत्वदर्शिन: ||
upadeshyanti te Gnãnam gnãnina: tatva darshina: ||  
(KTSV adds: – Swami Sivananda gives the commentary for this sloka in the following words, which I Quote, "Go to the teachers [who are well versed in the scriptures dealing with Brahman or Brhmastotris, and who are established in Brahman or Brahmanishthas].  Prostrate yourself before them with profound humility and perfect devotion.  Ask them questions, "O venerable Guru!  What is the cause of bondage?  How can I get liberation?  What is the nature of ignorance?  What is the Antaranga Sãdhana (inner spiritual practice) for attaining Self-Realization?"  Serve the Guru whole heartedly.  A teacher who is versed in the scriptures (Sãstrãs) but who has no direct Self-Realization will not be able to help you in the attainment of the knowledge of the Self.  He who has knowledge of the scriptures and is also established in Brahman will be able to instruct thee and help thee in the attainment of Self-Realization.  Mere prostrations alone will not do.  They may be tinged with hypocrisy.  You must have perfect faith in your Guru and his teaching.  You must serve him whole-heartedly with great devotion.  Now hypocrisy is not possible" Unquote.)

PraNipãdam - PraNãmam
106.            In the above paragraph we have made use of three new words such as 'PraNipãdam' which means Namaskãram, 'Pariprasnam' is to listen and absorb by questioning and clearing one's doubts and finally 'Seva' means to serve / PaNIvidai.  PraNipãdam will separate as 'pra-ni-pãdam.  The 'na' that comes after 'ra', will become 'Na' and so 'pranipaãdam' will become 'praNipãdam'.  It is not just 'padam' but 'pãdam' meaning to fall.  When you add 'ni' to 'pãdam' it becomes 'to fall flat', to which another prefix 'pra' is added for emphasis to mean 'just simply fall flat'!  To indicate that the Sishya has just cut off the sense of 'I', he just simply falls flat in front of the Guru.  That is the first thing the disciple has to do, 'to do away with his 'Ego' – do 'praNipãda Namaskãra', as mentioned by Sri Krishna in the sloka quoted above. 

107.            Like this word 'PraNipãdam' there is another word 'PrNãmam' which is used all over the North India as a shortened 'PraNãm' – 'प्रणाम्' as a fashionable Hindi word.  Though in South India it is fashionable to object to Hindi, apply black paint or tar to the Hindi writings in public places, I note that on the other hand Hindi names for cinema theatres, hotels and individual's names is becoming fashionably popular!  So this word 'PraNãm' is spreading a lot.  In this word 'PraNamam' this word 'Nãmam' is a variation of the word 'Namanam', meaning 'VaNakkam' or Namaskãram!  So also is the English word Name, it seems to have evolved similarly!  

108.            For the act of Namaskãra there is an immediate follow-up and that is known as 'Abhivãdanam'.  Immediately after being given the PooNool, this child who has been given Yagnyopaveetam is asked to learn to say the Self Introduction by saying his Gothra, the names of the first three Sages of that Gothra, the Sutra or that portion of the Vedas that they normally are closely acquainted with and his Name.  All this together is known as this Abhivãdanam.  From what I said now, first action is to do Namaskãra and then to introduce oneself.  With this I presumed a special meaning for PraNãmam!  This prefix 'pra' has several meanings.  It emphasises the word following adding meanings such as 'pre' or 'preceded by', 'previous' and or 'ere'.  So, for Nãmam / Namanam / Namskãram, the special mention is 'PraNãmam' and that is 'PraNam'.  The slightly funny meaning that occurred to me about this is the fact that, since he should do this act of Namaskãra before his self-introduction of his name, 'PraNãm' comes to mean 'pre-name-act'!

(To be continued.)


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 124 (Vol # 7) Dated 26 Mar 2014

 DEIVATHIN KURAL # 124 (Vol # 7) Dated 26 Mar 2014

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL of Kanchi Kaamakoti 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 going ahead from page No 950 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated continually)

85.           I told him about the compromise formula we had already arrived at on this issue of conduct of Archana in the regional language.  Most of the important functions and procedures conducted in the temples daily from morning till evening and what is done periodically on important days including revival / repair and 'jeerNa udhdharaNa kumbha abhishekam' – 'जीर्ण उद्धरण कुम्भाभिषेकं'; should all be continued to be done in the Sanskrit language in which all these procedures are written in the Agamas.  But in the daily procedures for worship, starting with the five-step procedure known as 'ganda-pushpa-dhupa-deepa-neivedyam', that goes on to services with the 16 steps and then 64 steps, there is scope for submission of Archana in the local language offering songs and presenting dances too. These have already been catered for in the already existing procedures very clearly.  So having done one formal Archana in Sanskrit, the subsequent Archana-s done for the individual devotees based on their requests can be in their own languages; without any breaking of rules of the Sãstrãs.

86.          We do not have to even touch the Sanskrit Archana Mantras that are there for the whole country.   Nothing should be done to hurt the sensibilities of out-station visitors who expect Sanskrit to be followed and those from within Tamil Nadu who are of the majority opinion that the existing procedures should not be interfered with; we can add the Tamil Archana as an addition, not as a replacement of Sanskrit Mantras but in addition.  This is the acceptable addition, about the procedure to be followed in the temples, for individual devotees, based on their request for Archana / Darsan.  This is what I told in reply to the point raised by that gentleman who was so concerned about National Unity and Integration, who went away satisfied to quite an extent.

87.          For conduct of such Archana-s we need to have serials of such 'NãmãvaLi' – 'நாமாவளி', with 108 and 1008 Nãmas isn't it?  There are no such already existing lists in Tamil as having been devised by Mahatmas!  But, what is not to be lost sight of is the fact that, such names should be the words of such great saints and Mahatmas of well established reputation as ardent devotees as only their words will have the authority and sanctity.  Such names should be selected and strung in a sequence.  If they are to have divine power and 'Mantra Shakti', they are to be words of great devotees of the past, from whose writings we should be selecting the Ashtotra and Sahasra Namãvalis.

88.          The Nãmas for Siva should be selected from Thevãram, Thiru Vãsagam and the 12 Thirumurai songs while the Nãmas for Vishnu should be selected from the Nãlãyira Divya Prabandam written by Ãzhvãrs.  The names for AmbãL should be selected from the writings of Abhirãmi Bhattar and Kumara Guruparar's songs on Madurai Meenãkshi Amman and Ramalinga Swamigal's poems on Tripura Sundari of Thiruvortriyur and such mature writings of devotees of AmbãL.  Names for Muruga should be from Thiruppugazh by Sri AruNagiri Nãthar and Kandar Anubhuti by Sekkizhãr.  Names for Vigneshwara could be from Avvaiyar, Nambiãndãr Nambi, Kapila Deva Nãyanãr and AdirãvadigaL.  Thus words of Namãvalis in Tamil should be selected only from such devotee-poets whose words have the weight and gravity of deep insight and intense devotion. 

89.          In Sanskrit the Namãvalis mostly will be from such slokas in which those very names in that very order will be occurring.  For example in the Vishnu Sahasranãma Stotram those very thousand names will be occurring in the form of a verse.  So as it is the names will have to be taken, with a PraNava 'Om' in front and a 'Nama:' at the end will have to be added for the Archana.  This is easier for getting them committed to memory and chant them with absolute concentration without having to refer to a book repeatedly.  Now to compose such serials in Tamil, they may not be from any one source and will be that much difficult to chant with a PraNava Mantra of 'Om' in front and a 'portri' – 'போற்றி' at the end.  I suppose over time we may be able to get them by-heart. 

90.          There are many poems in Tamil without clarity about who is the author.  Still many of them have real deep meaning and are capable of evoking intense reactions from the devotees such as literature of the first and second periods of 'Sanga Kãla' and such time tested writings of Kambar, Villiputhoorãr and Kachiappa Sivãchãriyãr.  If by chance these names collected from already existing sources are insufficient, then only we should be resorting to newly forming names to be included as Mantras in Ashtotra / Sahasranãma serials.  Such newly coined words should preferably be translations of already existing Sanskrit names.  This is the respect we must show towards ancient traditions. 

91.          We are all too small with limited knowledge, understanding and abilities.  Within our limitations, when we form new words, how can they be having live force in them?  As the saying goes, 'Old is Gold' and the proverbs of the past have lasting relevance even in the present day world of continuous change.  So, when it comes to Maha Lakshmi, DakshiNa Murthy and the Nava Grahams aka the nine planets; we may not be able to compose new and even translate the Sanskrit Nãmas easily.  One important thing is that the reason that they quote for asking for Tamil names is that, it should be easily understood.  It is the love for one's own language and hate for what is thought to be other's language, as part of inter caste rivalry; that this problem is centred around.  Still, they quote the excuse that the Nãmas should be understandable as the reason.  But it so happens that everyone can understand most of the Sanskrit names anyhow.  When the names selected from old Tamil classics, if the translator's mental attitude and comprehension is not up to the mark, the new names so coined by them may not be understandable by many of the Tamil only devotees.  In the bargain, it may prove that instead of these so called newly coined words in Tamil, people may feel that 'Sanskrit Nãmas themselves were better'!

92.          Hence such tasks should be given to only to such poets who are knowledgeable in both Sanskrit and Tamil, who are ready to set aside the competitiveness and are keener on the common man's needs of understanding.  Worshipfulness towards divinity is as basic a need of the common man as breathing.  In it if we rope in unnecessary aspects such as love of some language and dislike of some other, and be not able to correctly arrange for any alternate means, will God excuse our, such interference?  Without forgetting this important issue, we should do what has to be done.  So that the people so involved in this task may get the right attitude for this, we should pray to God for guidance.  That is what we can do and what we must do.  Let me come back to the topic of 'Namaskãra' that I originally started with.  For all confusion and problems to be erased, the only thing we can do is to do Namaskãra to that NarayaNa who is like a Father for all of us who have these differences of opinions!

Bravery and VaNakkam
93.           Whatever happens now, evolution of the word Namaskãram from the act of 'Nama' and VaNakkam from our readiness for humility with obeisance, is indicative of how our ancient forefathers were ready to identify the good aspects of life and were worshipful towards the same.  It is called as 'body language', to naturally convey our attitude by bodily signs.  Similarly to convey our simple attitude of Vinaya was this act of Namaskãra, Namaste and VaNakkam evolved, beautifully expressing our inner feelings and sense.  Even when we lay down our body like a piece of log as though to say, 'there is nothing of me or mine here'; the inner attitude is one of pliant universal acceptance only.  While doing Panchãnga Namaskãra the body language clearly conveys our humility.  I was saying that the very words Namaskãram and VaNakkam convey our humbleness. 

94.          Bravery and fearlessness, our forefathers demonstrated aplenty where required.  They never surrendered to the enemy and never approved of unholy and inhuman behaviour ever.  But for good and noble qualities, they were ever ready to bow their heads down.  Appar Swami has encouraged us to do so by saying, "Head, you bow yourself!" – 'thalaiye nee vaNangãi' – 'தலையே நீ வணங்காய்'!  I am thinking of an interesting observation; as brave warriors our forefathers bent their bows in shooting off their arrows as missiles and when faced with what is noble and worthy of respect, the bowed their heads and bent their bodies with an absolute sense of Vinaya, 'villãga vaLaindãrgaL' – 'வில்லாக வளைந்தார்கள்'!  While doing Namaskãra you have to bend your body and head, isn't it?

95.          The act of Namaskãram is said in English as 'Bowing'.  Bow means a 'vil' – 'வில்' in Tamil.  Instead of being tensed and taut, to be pliant is to do Namaskãra and show your respect.  As I keep telling you, things are becoming clearer in my mind.  I told you that the direct meaning of Namaskãram and doing 'Namanam' is to bend, as the grammatically correct meaning.  Another higher meaning is also implied.  I said so earlier and do not mind repeating it once again.  In it is included a meaning to convey that, "There is nothing of me or mine here" and to surrender saying so, relating to the principle of 'SaraNãgati' Tattva.  At the end of a religious ritual or a great deed, to say 'na mama' – 'न मम', meaning 'not mine, the effect of this action is all yours only' is the in thing.  Similarly, for this idea that this body is not mine but all yours, is this act of Namaskãra.

96.          The direct meaning of Namaskãram grammatically and as per etymological derivation is to bend.  The principle of accommodativeness to others and their wishes in included here.  Bowing conveys the same meaning.  The world over, all people are one society only, whatever be the languages as the word meanings and body language are so closely accommodative.  However much we may try to find reasons for separateness, we are all one family basically.  Christians and Muslims go on their knees and call it the morning prayers, one calling it 'Mass' and the other calling it 'Namãs'.  They say that this act is 'to kneel' or 'genuflection or genuflexion'.  This word 'knee' if pronounced without the letter 'k' being silent, it will be closer to 'kaNnu' – 'கணு' in Tamil.  In 'Genu – flex' the connexion of the Sanskrit word 'janu' – 'जानु' is clearer.  The Sanskrit word 'ãjãnubãhu' – 'आजानुबाहु' means one whose hands are reaching the knee. 

97.          Those who know etymology will know that 'ja' and 'ka' and 'ya' are interchangeable.  The interchange of 'ya' and 'ja' are more often.  But sometimes this 'ja' can be 'ka' or 'ga'.  That means that 'Janu' in Sanskrit can become 'KaNu' in Tamil, isn't it?  But that word instead of indicating the knee has come to mean the ankle, it seems.  We measure lengths locally using a word 'Muzham' meaning the distance between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger.  Since the hands of 'Ajãnubãhu' hangs down to the knees, as though measuring the distance to the knee may be, in Tamil that Knee is known as 'Muzham Kãl' – as the leg is one 'Muzham' each from the ankle and hip, either way!  In sugar cane and bamboo we have a number of nodes which are joints with hollow or filled in cylindrical portions separating them, isn't it?  These nodes or joints are known as 'KaNu' – 'கணு' in Tamil.  May be from this 'KaNu' in the leg only, every joint in sugar cane and bamboo, possibly came to be called as 'KaNu' – 'கணு' in Tamil.   

(To be continued.)



Monday, March 24, 2014

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 123 (Vol # 7) Dated 24 Mar 2014

 DEIVATHIN KURAL # 123 (Vol # 7) Dated 24 Mar 2014

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavãL of Kanchi Kaamakoti 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 going ahead from the last paragraph on page No 940 of Volume 7 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at updated continually)

72.           Procedure for Sãshtãnga Namaskãra.   While doing Namaskãra lay your body down on the ground with legs close together so that your forehead, chest, stomach, knees and the front portion of your feet are all flat on the ground.  Hands should be brought forward so that they are both parallel and stretched forward with the palms touching the ground.  Then the hands are brought back while describing an arc on either side and made to rest with the palms facing inwards, touching the thighs on either side.  Now is the matter of the ears.  This man who is lying on the ground like a log of wood with his hands and legs in a straight line, is to move only the face to the right and left so that his ears may alternately touch the ground first to the right and then to the left.  Then he has to extend both the hands in a reverse arc above the head bringing the palms in contact with each other, hands held straight with the thumbs up, in an Anjali posture.  With that, the act of Namaskãra is completed.

73.          Thus the act of Namaskãra, starting from and ending in the standing erect posture, combines in itself many individual movements variously bending and stretching the body parts, proves to be an excellent exercise.  This has proved to be a good physical exercise, also good for the mind and the inner being creating good vibrations in the nerves, and has become popular as 'Surya Namaskãra' as part of Yoga exercises.  I have described it enough but it will be clearly understood only if demonstrated physically.  But what to do, I do not have the luck to demonstrate the same and to test if someone in the audience is capable of doing so, is not good manners.  (PeriyavãL says so smilingly.)  To do it is quite easy, but to explain it in words becomes a huge narrative like an epic!  If you have the correct intention, it can be done quite easily, once you have noted the details.  One alternate opinion about this is also there.

74.          However sincere you may be, in big crowds we may not be able to do all this, extending and folding our hands and legs in all directions, isn't it?  On such occasions it is not very wrong, if we consider laying our body down on the ground with the two hands, two palms, two legs and torso, to constitute this act of Sãshtãnga Namaskãra.  I am wondering if I have added too many details in the simple act of, totally nullifying ourselves as having nothing of me or mine, falling in absolute surrender!  After all in the act of Namaskãra there is also the intention of asking for pardon for our sins, isn't it?  So, even if there are some mistakes in the explanation of details I am sure, Bhagawan will excuse me.

Panchãnga Namaskãram: Greatness of Motherhood
75.          You know already that women do not do Namaskãra like this.  The way they do it is known as Panchãnga Namaskãra.  Do not mistake it to mean 'Panchãngam' which is an astrologer's calendar, in which he sees and identifies, the Titi (that is the day after a new or full moon), Vãram (that is the day of the week), Star ascendant on that day in the skies, Yogam, KaraNam and auspicious and inauspicious periods of the day for scheduling events and rituals.  Here we are talking about the five body parts.

76.          Our ancient Rishis who decided the rules and regulations of the Sãstrãs, even when ruling that during the act of Namaskãra we should be throwing off our sense of superiority and lie low at the ground level, did not wish to demean the women folks as they were representatives of AmbãL and Motherhood.  So, they who protect the foetus as a living being and create the milk as food for the new born babe after birth; were not to be made to display or soil that part of the body by touching the ground.  So Ashtãnga Namaskãra for men became Panchãnga Namaskãra for women demonstrating their physical and attitudinal penchant for flexibility, in which they do Namaskãra by going down on their knees with, the five parts of the body coming into contact with the ground being, the feet close together, two palms close together and the forehead.

77.          This act of 'VaNakkam' or 'VaNanguvadu' also means bending only.  From that view point, it looks as though what women do is the real Namaskãram.  Men can do VaNakkam with their hands and may be they can slightly bow their heads and bend the body above the hip.  But it is only women who do proper Namaskãram.  Not only the word 'VaNakkam' in Tamil, in Sanskrit also the root word 'Nam' – 'नम्', means 'bend'.  When that root word '' becomes the verb 'namanam' – 'नमनम्', it would mean 'to bend'.  So the Namaskãram that men do, to lie like a log, straight without a bend, cannot be called 'Namaskãra' at all!  So the true Namaskãram or VaNakkam is truer in Panchãngam that the ladies do!    

Men May Also Do Panchãngam
78.          Women are to do only Panchãngam and are not to do Ashtãnga Namaskãra.  But men can do either Panchãnga or Ashtãnga Namaskãra.  Mostly in North India, they only do the Panchãnga Namaskãra.  In our Dharma Sãstrãs also both varieties of Namaskãra are allowed for menfolk.  Sekkizhãr says that Sundaramurthy Nãyanãr did both these two Namaskãrãs, 'ettinodu aindumãgum uruppinãl paNindu vaNanginãr' – 'எட்டினோடு ஐந்துமாகும் உறுப்பினால் பணிந்து வணங்கினார்'.  In many other Sãstrãs written by some Rishis known as Kalpam, it is given that only for God and Pithrus considered equal to God, we are required to do Ashtãnga Namaskãrãs and that for all other elders we are to use Panchãnga Namaskãra only. 

79.          This is not an inviolable and sacrosanct rule.  Men could adopt Panchãnga Namaskãra depending on circumstances.  For example if the space is rather restricted or crowded, men could do Panchãnga Namaskãra.   VaNakkam basically means not only physically pliant but also mentally submissive.  In Tamil this VaNakkam has become something like an official terminology used everywhere.  But to note that instead of keeping the idea of voluntary submissiveness, when the word is being used like a Tamil salvo against use of other words from other languages, it is slightly painful.

Sense of Nationality and Parochialism
80.           Other than Tamil Nadu, all over India the term used is 'Namaste' – 'नमस्ते' meaning 'Obeisance to you'!  In Namaskãram, the word 'Nama:' – 'नम:' is 'Obeisance'.  When you add 'Karam' it is indicative of the action.  In 'Namo Nama:', Siva Panjãkshari mantra and in NarayaNa Ashtãkshari mantra, we are not adding that 'Karam' and only saying 'Nama:' isn't it?  In Namaste, the 'te' means 'to you'.  It is this word 'Namaste' that is being used all over India with loving respect as a greeting, except for Tamil Nadu.  In other South Indian States of Andhra, Karnataka and Kerala, setting aside whatever is the pseudonym in their language, have adopted 'Namaste' in their Telugu, Kannada and Malayala languages.  In Telugu for example like VaNakkam in Tamil, there is a word 'mrokka'.  But, they rarely seem to be using that word.  They normally use this 'Namaste' only and would with due respect rather say, 'namaskãramandi'.

81.          Only here in Tamilnadu, due to a hypocritical attitude towards use of language, setting aside the All India currency of Namaste, they say 'VaNakkam' as though they are rubbing it in!  Here too earlier on, 'Namaskãram' was quiet prevalent, as the basis for 'Namaste' and 'Namaskãram' are one and the same.  Only in the last 100 years 'VaNakkam' has been virtually forced in.  Yes it is a beautifully sensibly meaningful word only with the same meaning of Vinaya or PaNivu in it.  Yes one should be proud of one's own background and regional culture, alright.  But at least while interacting with people from other regions of the country, to bring in the regional modes is anti-nationalism, isn't it?  To set aside nationalism and bring in regionalism is wrong in more than one way.  Instead of calling it as 'Abhimãnam' we can only call it parochialism bordering on insanity!

82.          Still, demonstrating their respect for regional pride, especially catering for 'Vote Bank' politics, the so called political leaders of other states also, when they come here while talking in public meetings, end up saying 'VaNakkam' even if their tongue will not permit the pronunciation of the Tamil word correctly end up saying 'Vanakkam' – 'वनक्कं' instead of 'वणक्कं', as I am told!  Though they may say so outwardly, inwardly they have a nagging discomfort about us Tamilians.  One gentleman even spoke to me about this.  When the whole country is moving in one direction, instead of joining that mainstream, to cut that even in small matters and go in their own way; is to an extent against national unity and integrity, he felt.  If he spoke about VaNakkam, especially he was regretting the introduction of 'Tamizh Archana' in temples!

Archana Mantras in Tamil
83.          Since I have touched that topic, let me make a comprehensive statement about it.  In short what that North Indian gentleman was telling me, was something like this.  "Nowhere in the whole country including in other Dravidian States, is there a demand for the Archana Mantras in the mother tongue.  Yes, nobody is considering Sanskrit as the National Language.  But since in our religion all the basic authoritative books are in that language, it has been accepted as the common 'lingua franca' for all religious matters.   In all the temples in the north or south, east or west, the procedures, systems, incantations are all in that one common language of Sanskrit.  In a country like ours with many languages, ethnic differences and cultural milieu, it is the temple procedures in Sanskrit that is contributing towards a feeling of belonging to one family of one common heritage.  So, even setting aside their trueness to Sãstrãs, for the sake of national unity, these procedures should be saved and protected as they are, without any meddling!"   

84.          Travellers from all over the country may and do visit any temple in any State of India.  If you take your Rameswaram Temple or Madurai Meenãkshi Temple of Tanjavur Brihad Easwara Temple; you may notice that half the devotees on any particular day are from other states of India.  Thus at any one time we can see a Mini-India assembled there in these temples, from VaishNo Devi Temple in J & K to Kanya Kumari.  Nowadays people are more interested in travel and in our Indian ambience, temples are the most popular tourist spots!  On the one hand government and other non-governmental organizations enable such concessions as L.T.C. and travel agencies are also on the increase.   Such being the case, to have worship procedures conducted in the regional languages is against national unity and integrity", that gentleman kept on!      I have been giving my attention to this aspect for quite some time now.  I have consulted many authorities knowledgeable in Sãstrãs and Ãgamãs (which especially cover procedures for worship in Temples) in trying to find some common grounds for a compromise.  This I conveyed to that gentleman from the North. 

(To be continued, with the compromise formula for Archana in Temples.)