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.)




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