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.)



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