Sunday, April 06, 2014

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 129 (Vol # 7) Dated 06 Apr 2014

 DEIVATHIN KURAL # 129 (Vol # 7) Dated 06 Apr 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 994 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)

Two Divine Hand-Shakes
140.                  Our religion has unique pride of having divinised even the animal instinct of the natural carnal attraction between the genders, by the power of Mantras.  In that vein there are two occasions when the action of holding hands – not just touching – but strongly holding each other's hands have been made an important part of the procedures.  One as I just said is the 'PãNigrahaNam' – 'पाणिग्रहणं' in 'Vivãha Samskãra' – 'विवाह संस्कार', that is marriages and the other in….?  (PeriyavãL looks at each one in the audience with a question mark on his face with a tongue in the cheek humour!  Then he answers his question himself in the following words.)  It is 'Upanayanam', that is the answer to my question.  Mostly all those who have assembled here have had Upanayanam and some of you have gone through marriage also. 

141.                  But somehow though you may be aware that in marriages this ritual of PãNigrahaNam is important, are not knowledgeable of its importance in Upanayanam!  In fact forgetting the fact that marriage is not only license for sexual union but also an arrangement for taking a partner or roping in an accomplice for being able to perform many of the Swadharma Karma Anushtãnãs; this PãNigrahaNam is properly remembered I suppose as the initial opportunities of publicly holding hands.  But after Upanayanam the young boy leaves his parental home and starts Guru Kula Vãsam, living with his Guru in his house, doing Bhikshã Vandana, learning all the Vidya of Vedic living.  So he is virtually handed over to the Guru, entrusted to his care.  Thus PãNigrahaNam has an important part in Upanayanam too, when the boy is handed over to the Guru.  Possibly since nowadays majority of children do not go for Guru Kula Vãsam, this aspect has not registered in people's minds I suppose.  In marriages the 'Varan' – 'वरन्' (the bride-groom) has to hold the hands of the 'Vadhu' – 'वधू:' (the bride).  Similarly in Upanayanam, it is the Guru who does the Yagnyopaveetam of making the boy wear PooNool for the first time and gives him Brhma Upadesam.  From then onwards, he takes the boy to his home and does Veda Adhyayanam.  Nowadays, it is more of a 'in-lieu' situation in which the child's father who may not be ever doing Gayatri Anushtãna at all, who may be doing the Brhma Upadesa to the boy known as 'Vatu' – 'वटु'!

142.                  In fact in Upanayanam the Ãchãrya says a few mantras which mean that, many Devatas indwelling in his self are protecting the boy Vatu, by his holding of the boy's hands and that he is handing the boy over to the Devatas.  In the marriage the bride-groom says the mantras which mean that the Devatas have entrusted the girl in his keep so that together, they may together observe and follow the rules and regulations of Gruhasta Dharma and prays for the continued blessings and grace of the Devatas.  The aim and purpose in both the cases are one and the same, that is of making one's life dutiful and amenable for observance of Dharma as applicable to that particular Ãshrama of Brhmacharyam or Gruhastam.  It is all governed by one God only, but he manages the governance of the world through a number of his officers who are known as Devatas.  If this individual Jivan worships God sincerely, at various Ashrams namely Brhmacharya, Gruhasta, Vana Prasta and Sanyãsa in his life, those Devatas responsible lend him a helping hand, to enable him to progress towards the final attainment of understanding, comprehension and realization of Ãtma as oneself! 

143.                  Let me come to the crux of the issue.  The point that is proved is that, as important as Upanayanam is for the male child, so is Vivãha is for the girl child.  The male child at the time of Upanayanam surrenders to the Guru and in his custody progresses in the ideal path for having come in to the world as a male.  Similarly the girl child has to surrender to her husband, who is in an exactly similar position as a Guru, surrender unto him and in his custody progress towards the ideal path for having come in to the world as a female.  It is not mutually holding hands.  In Upanayanam it is the Guru who holds the hands of the Sishya in his hands.  Similarly here in Vivãha it is the Varan aka Husband who holds the wife's hands in his, covered and well protected without any let!  The Hand Shake as per western customs is indicative of equality, at par.  But in Upanayanam and Vivãha the 'Vatu' or 'Vadhu' does SaraNãgati, surrendering their mind, speech and body to the Guru / Varan, who takes complete charge from here onwards!  The Sishya as the 'Vatu' in Upanayanam and the Sishyai as the 'Vadhu' in Vivãha have no self-will of their own.  Since the hands are the tools for all actions, as an indication of having surrendered their mind, speech and body they hand over their hands to the Guru/Varan for him to take care, mentor and protect as a friend, guide and philosopher!  That is the PãNigrahaNam by Guru/Varan in Upanayanam/Vivãha, indicative of a seal or pact!

Holding Hands and Dandam; the Matter of Ladies
144.                  Can the Guru go on forever catching the hands of the Sishya?  It is a symbolic act in a formal occasion.  The main job of the Guru among other things such as teaching, guiding, mentoring is enforcement of discipline.  So the Sishya while still holding at one end, hands over the Dandam in his hands to be held by the Acharya from the other end. The Dandam in the hands of a young Brhmachari boy is also a young branch of the Purasai tree, with may be one or two young leaves still sticking to it.  It is the other end of this Dandam that the Guru catches hold of.  Comparatively when after Vanaprastam one takes the Sanyãsa Ãshrama, the Dandam given to him is a hardened Bamboo stick.  Both are indicative of the subtle power instilled in them by way of Mantras to protect the necessary Dharma of attitudes and behaviour as required to be maintained by the Brhmachari and Sanyãsi respectively. 
145.                  This girl becoming a wife is in the same state as the Sishya.  But you may notice that she has not been given any Dandam.  Once a man has been shown to her as the 'to be husband', she is to totally surrender her mind, speech and body to him.  Women have a natural tendency to do so while males tend to be indomitable and to surrender is not in their blood.  So they need to be given a symbolic accoutrement and she does not need that.

146.                  We were talking about the act of holding hands.  Amongst equals, close relatives and friends, this holding of hands is natural.  Holding of each other's hands as an expression of friendship has been there in our country too, but the shaking in hand-shake has not been there till recently.  May be westerners do so, as an indication of spouting of happiness in meeting someone.  They are like the angels of the heavens, very fond of happiness; happy people drinking and dancing whenever they can, quite naturally.  We Indians do not forget the aim of Adakkam that, we are at all times keen on peaceful Sãntam and abidance.  So, embracing in love and hugging has not been there at least as a public display.  We leave it without any emotional outburst and shaking.

Male-Female Difference in Culture
147.                  This bodily contact, hugging and embracing done here in India are between people of the same sexes only.  We are so cultured that we cannot even think of doing otherwise.  Only in Vivãha there is this holding of hands – that too the bride-groom holding the bride's hands in his – done for all the assemblage to see, without any scope for loss of decency and decorum as a Karma required by the Sãstrãs is this PãNigrahaNam.  It is not so amongst the white skinned people.  I do not wish to elaborate and be too critical as for example 'Kissing' is part of the required ritual, in their case!  In the way the world is made, in God's resolution, people of different parts of the world may have evolved in their own way.  May be they are meant to be more physical and progress through that. That is why their progress is more related to the physical world in terms of Science, Technology, Industry and Ventures. But people of this Indian Sub-Continent are so spiritually oriented to be progressing through looking for Ãtma related Truths, with the physical as the supportive means only.  That is how it has been going on in our country from very ancient times.  For others in the world the physical is like the main course and spiritual is like the appetizer pickle in-between.  We have no right to criticize the God's making of things and or find faults with the foreigner's ways.  At the same time we do not have to think any less of our own culture and traditions and become copy-cats of the ways of the rest of the world.  But what is to be regretted is that, in trying to copy the rest of the world, some are crossing the limits in our own country beyond the limits of decency and decorum in man-woman interactions!

148.                  Nowadays woman are holding high positions in business and industry in the corporate world.  Women are filling the posts in Police, Army, Administrative, Foreign and Allied services and in Governance.  When some foreign dignitary visits this country, to be shaking hands of women in such situations is like a pin-prick in the national nerve!  May be that, this is done in all innocence as part of the protocol.  But it will be equally in the rightness of manners to respectfully convey that, 'In our country, we women do not hold hands other than one's own husband, please!'  Whichever nation the visitor may belong to, he is only likely to respond with respect and a "Is that so?"  Similar is the act of garlanding the visitor.  Shaking hands and garlanding by men for men and women for women is alright.  But to do otherwise is a big smudge on our culture.  Another similar matter though not so blatant, but not approvable that happens nowadays.  When presenting with a shawl, it is alright to put it around the body of the person being honoured, if he happens to be a man.  But for a woman it should be handed over on a platter with flowers and Tãmboolam. 

Varieties of Anjali
149.                  Talking about Anjali, I happened to mention about one handed Salãm and Salute.  While they are all foreign customs, we believe in the double handed Anjali aka Kumbidu, putting both arms together with the two palms touching each other.  It is an indicative Abhinaya of submitting one's mind that has a tendency to keep on running away hither and thither.  The Abhinaya (sign language) is of the flower bud, especially of the Lotus flower.  In Tamil the action of folding one's hands in Anjali is called 'kai kooppuvadu' – 'கை கூப்புவது', has evolved from the word 'koombu' – 'கூம்பு' as the word for 'bud' I suppose.  The heart itself is like a lotus bud.  When expressing heartfelt love, this sign language of the Anjali is most appropriate, a beautiful expression of a beautiful thought and feeling.  When we take a flower in our hands and present it to the Idol of God, we call it 'Pushpãnjali'!  The very act of Anjali is a symbolic flower bud only.

(To be continued.)




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