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.)




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