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COMMON PRINCIPLE IN OUR RELIGION
Sri Chandramoulisvaraya Namah:
There are many doctrines in our land: Saiva Siddhantam, Vaishnavas’ Pancharatra Siddhantam, Madhva’s Siddhantam etc. There are many such doctrines, which appear to contradict one another. They all belong to Hindu religion. We are now not getting into the question of which of them is superior and which inferior. But what is Hindu religion? We should know what is stated commonly in all the doctrines. When asked, none gives a clear answer. Even well-read scholars talk more on the differences among the various doctrines. This trend is also noted in the books we read. Unless there is a common thread in these doctrines, we cannot call Hinduism as one religion. I have thought about this many times. Let us see what that common thread is.
When Hindus read Ramayana every day, they chant certain verses at the beginning and end. One verse is:
In this verse, in addition to referring to people and worlds in general, why is special reference made to the welfare of cows and brahmanas? After talking about all, does it not appear partial to pray specially for the welfare of brahmanas? It may appear incorrect to many. Even if we assume partiality among humans there, why should cows be referred separately? Cow is common to all people, is it not? Hence the reason for this is unclear. We have to find out the reason; let it be.
There was a king in Madurai called Koon Pandian. He became a ‘sramana’ (Buddhist) under the tutelage of sramanas. He ordered that nobody should wear Vibhuti or Rudraksham. His wife and minister were great devotees of Lord Siva. Yet they could not contravene the king’s orders. They worshipped Siva in solitude. They were anxious as to when the king would retract from the sramana religion and worship Siva. At that time Sambandhamurthy Swamigal, the most important of the four founders of Saiva sect and avatara (incarnation) of Lord Subrahmania, was on pilgrimage to various centres holy to Siva, along with many devotees. The Pandia king’s wife and minister, who came to know of this, secretly met Swamigal and pleaded with him to visit Madurai and teach good sense to the king. When Swamigal arrived at Madurai, the Matham where he stayed was set to fire by sramanas. Seeing that, Swamigal prayed to Iswara that the fire might go and catch hold of the Pandian king. As per God’s will the king was afflicted with severe fever. “Poyya ramamanarkolu vunchudar
It is normal for sick persons, who are otherwise very stubborn, to relax their obstinacy, when their suffering becomes unbearable. The king, who practised a vow of not even seeing devotees of Siva and those who wore Vibhuti or Rudraksham, agreed to the request of the minister, unable to bear the suffering. The minister became very happy and invited Swamigal. When Swamigal arrived, a debate ensued between him and the sramanas. Swamigal then said to them: “You remove the fever from the right half of the king’s body by the power of your mantras and I shall do the same in respect of the left half. If you fail, you stand defeated; if I fail, I would stand defeated.” Then Sambandha Swamigal sang ten verses starting with “Mandiram-avadu Neeru, Vanavar meladu Neeru.... “ and applied Vibhuti on the left side of the body of the Pandian king. The fever vanished immediately from that area. Though sramanas attempted their best, they did not succeed in driving away the fever from the right side of the king’s body. They then said they would try on the left side and that Swamigal could try on the right side. Sambandha Swamigal agreed, chanted the same verses and applied Vibhuti, now on the right side. The fever which the king had contracted was not ordinary fever, but specially imposed under the will of Iswara. Now the right side became all right; but the fever shifted to the left. Sambandha took pity on the king and quelled that fever also.
Though all this happened under the very nose of the sramanas, they did not accept defeat. The king also did not develop full faith in Sambandha. Both sides started to debate. Before that, Sambandha Swamigal went to the temple and prayed to Iswara that as sramanas denounced Vedas and yagnas, Iswara should suppress them and ensure that Iswara’s fame spreads everywhere.
Sambandha then told sramanas: “You write down your principles on a palm-leaf and drop it in the waters of river Vaigai here. I shall also write down our doctrine and drop my palm-leaf. The palm-leaf, which swims against the water current, is the one containing the true principles.” The sramanas agreed. When the two palm-leaves were dropped in the river, the one of sramanas flowed away with the current, whereas the one of Sambandha Swamigal swam against the current and reached the shore. The sramanas did not accept defeat even at this stage. Then Sambandha said: “Let us now put our palm-leaves in fire. The party, whose leaf gets burnt, would stand defeated.” The sramanas again agreed. When the test was conducted, the leaf of sramanas was reduced to ashes, whereas Sambandha’s leaf was intact.
What Sambandhamurthy Swamigal had written on his palm-leaf was as under:
Whatever may be the doctrine of Saivas, in this verse of ultimate principle, they have mentioned brahmanas and cows separately. In this verse Devas are also included. In the earlier verse Devas were not included. There is another common verse for all of us.
Whatever questions may be asked by anyone in the world, Gita Sastra has the reply.
Yaga has three forms- mantra, Devata and havis. Of them, mantra has to be chanted by brahmana. The most important material required for performing homam is cow’s ghee. These days brahmanas generally study English; they do not study Vedas. Those who study English are unable to pronounce mantra properly, even if they learn at a later stage. Hence the power of mantra is missing nowadays. As karmas are not being done by anyone properly, study of Vedas is also on decline. Cow’s milk is nowadays generally used for coffee. Hence pure ghee is also not available. Thus purity of material is also missing.
We have to think that brahmana and cow are specially mentioned in all the above verses including that of Tirugnanasambandha, because brahmana studies Veda and cow provides ghee, the most important material for homam. The benefit accruing from yaga is not only for brahmanas and cows, but all people in the world will attain wellbeing through yaga. Yagas alone can bring wellbeing to the world. If yagas are to be performed properly, brahmanas and cows should be in good state.
Brahmanas, who have not studied Veda these days, should not only regret their ignorance of Veda, but also should treat with respect the brahmanas who have studied Veda. They should prostrate to them. Everyone should stop drinking coffee as far as possible. At least a little study of Veda should be undertaken. They should do Panchamaha yagnas as far as possible.
Though the doctrines in the Hindu religion are varied due to differences in principles, there has to be a common principle for all of them. We have to think that as brahmanas and cows are generally the prime cause for the wellbeing of the world, all sections of the Hindu religion make special laudatory reference to brahmanas and cows.
VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA
Translated by: P R Kannan, Navi Mumbai
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