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Sri Chandramoulisvaraya Namah:
VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA (Regd.)
Kumbhakonam
Publication No. 17

 OUR SASTRAS

Our country is called by the name of India. From Himalayas, right down to Kanyakumari, it is all India. This land was known as Bharatabhumi in olden days. For the welfare of people living here, Sastras have been produced. There is a Sastra for the purpose of keeping the body healthy and avoiding untimely death. That Sastra is called Ayurveda. This Ayurveda teaches many methods for extending human life span and leading a comfortable life so long as one is alive. Ayurveda has taught ways to cure people here of diseases by using herbs produced in this country. But people took to western methods of cure as the government did not encourage Ayurveda. Once the government started to be run by ministers drawn from amongst our people, Raja of Panagal established a school of Ayurveda in Chennai, considering that the medicines from our own herbs are alone suitable for us and other methods will cause adverse effects. This school was not extended even a thousandth of assistance given to western system of medicine. However being well versed in Samskrit, the Raja of Panagal was keen to encourage our Sastras. Had he lived a little longer, he would have contributed more to this cause. Now it is only Ayurveda that is encouraged a little by our government; our Mathematics etc. are still not supported by our government. They teach the western sciences alone to our children. Ayurveda got a little encouragement because the Raja of Panagal became a minister.

Like Ayurveda dealing with human body, there is a Sastra for every aspect of life. There are now many theories in western countries also. But they have been developed by them in the last hundred years only. They developed these sciences and got benefits by spending money, only after having ruled other countries and thus becoming rich. In our country too, in olden days, brahmanas were given grants by kings and encouraged to do research in Sastras. Four thousand years ago, our Sastras had reached a level of development higher than the current stage of growth of sciences in western countries. These Sastras alone are suitable for our bodily comfort as well as spiritual wellbeing. We should not discard them. We should attempt to practise our indigenous methods in agriculture too. Be it agriculture, medicine or spiritual wellbeing, the benefit from our own Sastras will not be obtained from sciences of other countries. The western country has cold climate; medicine or architecture has evolved there suited to that. They eat food from table; their architecture aims at construction of house suited to that. We eat from leaves sitting on ground. If we construct houses as per their architecture, our rules of conduct cannot be followed. Our arithmetic is very easy. One can easily make computations using indigenous systems like ‘Ensuvadi’, ‘Kizhvai Ilakkam’ etc. Shirt, fountain pen etc. are not required for the mathematics of our country. We can compute just mentally. If we do not have a particular type of knowledge in our country, we can take it from others. Discarding our knowledge and learning others’ knowledge is not correct. There are excellent sciences with us for construction of houses, farming, medicine and mathematics. In music, they know only two ‘Melakartha’ ragas. As per our own science of music, there are 72 ‘Melakarthas’. If any of our sciences is gone into oblivion, we can learn it from them. It is a big folly to discard our own sciences totally. In Manusmriti, it has been stated that if the bride’s character is good, she may be considered even if her lineage is not so good. If gold is lying in a drain, should we not take it? So also, we can learn a science even from a lowly person. But one should not lay down a rule that we should learn it only from that person. In our schools, we should teach our own sciences relating to this world as well as the next; extra knowledge can be taken from outsiders. Surgery has been described in our Sastra called ‘Susrutam’. Whatever instruments are in use these days in hospitals, they are all described in this text. There is a book called ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’ in English. It is edited and republished once in every twenty-thirty years. All matters are covered there in detail. While talking about each science, its history is also mentioned. Details of the place and time of its initial origin and who transmitted it at what time to other countries are all given there. Sciences of astronomy, medicine, astrology, surgery, mathematics, languages, metaphysics, grammar, arboriculture etc. are all covered there. While talking about surgery, it states that this science was known in India first, transmitted via Arabia to Greece, then to Italy and later spread through entire Europe. Though they accept that other sciences existed in India in ancient times, they clearly concede that they learnt surgery only from India. Our sciences of medicine and astrology were translated into Arabic and then carried forward to Europe. The westerners were unaware of surgery; they learnt it only from India. Our ancient system of surgery is now not known to anyone; the reason is absence of encouragement of kings. Now when our people have attained their rights, the small beginning made by the Raja of Panagal may spread later. Manu has advised that we should not reject the science of other countries; but should accept them. Learning our own sciences is alone national education. The benefit of knowledge is spiritual gain alone. Dharmasastra has been created only for that. It is Arthasastra which teaches kingly dharmas. Sukraniti, Chanakya tantra etc. are Arthasastras. Dharmasastra teaches how one can advance without accumulating sins. Atma is eternal; body is transient. If science of the body is in conflict somewhere with Dharmasastra, one should follow Dharmasastra only. If the doctor advises us to consume the medicine called cod liver oil, Dharmasastra prohibits it. There we should choose to follow Dharmasastra. There is no need to indulge in matters of government, which would spoil our spirit. Hence in matters of conflict between Arthasastra and Dharmasastra, one should reject Arthasastra alone.

Dharmasastra teaches about our daily activities. It shows the way to reach the supreme state by following Iswara’s orders and doing bhakti.

There are certain outer signs of being the slave of Bhagavan. In schools there are groups like Scouts etc. They have a certain sign. There is a belt worn as a sign of being a servant in court of law. There is a sign worn by the recipients of the title of ‘Sir’ from the government. Nobody is shy of wearing such signs. But people are shy of wearing the Tulasi necklace of Iswara. Books dealing with spiritual wellbeing are Vedas, Sastras, Agamas, Puranas, Itihasas etc. Itihasas are actually Puranas only. The root of all of these is Veda. Dharmasastra teaches as to how we should conduct ourselves at home and the conduct of the lineage. It is twofold: Acharakanda and Vyavaharakanda. Eighteen Maharishis like Manu, Yagnavalkya and Parasara have written Dharmasastra. Veda is indeed the base of all of them. Religions based on Veda are known as Vedic religions. The rest are ‘Nastika’ (atheist) religions. Jainism, Buddhism etc. preach that there is no Iswara or that Veda is not the authority. The teachings of Jaina, Buddha et al are the basis of those religions. Saiva, Vaishnava etc. are Vedic religions. Saivism is even known by the name of ‘Vedic Saivism’. Periya Puranam (the Tamil epic detailing the life stories of 63 Saivaite saints) mentions ‘Veda neri tazhaittonga’ (for the fertile growth of Vedic path). Nammazhvar has been described elsewhere as ‘Vedam Tamizh seidan maran Satakopan)’ (the great Satakopan, who wrote Veda in Tamil). Nammazhvar is also known as Satakopan. In Vishnu temples, after having darshan of the Lord, they place ‘Satakopam’ on the head of the worshipper. Its import is placing Satakopan and other great devotees on the head. Satakopan, who is at the feet of Bhagavan, is placed on the head. Such Vedic religions have as their base five texts including Veda. They are generally known as ‘Vaidikam’ and not named after any one person. Christianity was established by Christ; but our religion was not started by any one person. Krishna says he came only for making people realise Veda. Veda has been in existence from time immemorial. Iswara caused Veda to appear in the hearts of Maharishis and blessed us with Veda through them. It is not possible to say when Vedas came first into existence. Vedas etc. are the authorities for the six systems of worship we follow. (The six systems are worship of Ganapati, Siva, Ambika, Vishnu, Subrahmanya and Surya). Veda is common to all these six systems.

Agamas are separate texts for each system. We have Saiva Agamas, Amba Agamas, Vishnu Agamas, Ganesa Agamas, Kumara tantram etc. Agamas tell us how to install and worship each of the respective Devatas.

There are 28 Saiva Agamas and 64 Devi Agamas. In each Agama, there are two parts; Vamabhaga (left hand) and Dakshinabhaga (right hand). The reason for these two divisions in the Agamas is the Dharmasastra, which stipulates strict rules of conduct for some and relaxed rules for some others. Brahmana should not drink liquor, whereas drinking is not so condemnable for certain others. These rules are weighty for some castes. Even castes, who eat non-vegetarian food, are prohibited from eating certain animal foods. The Vamamarga practice was meant to instruct even the eaters of animal food to offer it first to Bhagavan and then to eat. Those who are expected to follow Dakshinachara are criticised if they adopt Vamachara. (Vamamarga was described by Sankaracharya as the path of offering liquor and non-vegetarian food to Easwara). Societies, which stand for kindness towards animals, object to offering animals to Easwara in pursuance of Vamamarga. In butcher’s shops, many animals are killed every day. These Societies for kindness to animals do not protest in front of those shops. But they will protest the killing and offering of an animal by a Pujari in a village temple to the deity. It is correct that no animal should be put to trouble. But no fault will attach if the stipulation of Veda is followed with devotion. Sri Kannappa Nayanar offered animal food to Bhagavan, who accepted it. This is because there was only devotion in the mind of Kannappa; there was no thought of committing fault. It is not a fault to do something with devotion, even if it appears sinful. But the Society for kindness to animals protests if brahmana performs yaga or if Pujari offers an animal to God. Every day many animals are killed for the food of the whites. Why are these Societies not looking into it? There is no evil thought in performing yaga and offering animal to God in village; hence there will be no sin. Sastra stipulates that the guest should be offered a cow and that the guest should release the cow to roam as it pleases. It is only out of compassion to animals that Sastra stipulates in this manner. Siruttondar (a Saivaite Nayanar) offered the flesh of his own son as food to the guest. This only indicates that we should renounce everything totally.

There are four divisions in Agamas. They are Charya, Kriya, Yoga and Gnana. Before we go into it, let us refer to another issue. All timeless systems of religion are Vedic religions alone. But modern researchers say that Veda came from the north and they had a different book in the south; Aryans were Vaidikas and southerners were Dravidians; thus these researchers create quarrels. It is said that in Samskrit, there were nine basic texts of grammar. Out of them, Eindram is one; this was written by Indra. It is said that the oldest grammar text in Tamil, Tolkappiam is based on this Eindram. It is not possible to say on the basis of books in our country that there was a religion different from Vedic religion. Certain Tamil words explain this. ‘Yagam’ is denoted by ‘Velvi’ in Tamil; ‘Veda’ is ‘Marai’; ‘Achara’ is ‘Ozhukkam’. How does the word ‘Marai’ mean Veda? Veda describes that which is unseen or hidden; hence it is called ‘Marai’ (hidden) in Tamil.

Such words exist from ancient time in Tamil. Hence the matters they refer to, must be ancient, without beginning. When ancient Tamil books refer extensively to Vedas, Yagas and Paramasiva, it is not correct to say that Veda came from the north. They also talk about Agama, Charya, Kriya, Yoga and Gnana. Charya talks about activities to be performed by a devotee of Iswara. It is in ‘Kriya’ that temple is covered. One might ask: God exists everywhere; why to confine him to a stone. Though we say that God exists everywhere, that thought is not present in our minds. If the thought that God exists everywhere is present in the mind, will anyone tell lies, or indulge in evil deeds? It is true that God exists everywhere; but this is not enough for us. We have to obtain His grace. How to worship Him in order to get His grace? This is what the Agama teaches. There is the ray of Sun; every ray is indeed fire. But when a cloth is exposed to Sun, it does not catch fire. When a lens is held against the Sun and the cloth is held below the lens, the cloth catches fire. The lens enables close convergence of many rays of Sun. Electricity is everywhere. To bring it out, a power station is needed. In the same way, for making the grace of the omnipresent God available to us, temple is needed. People complain of the lack of purity of the Gurukkals (Temple Pujaris); they say: what if everyone goes inside. We should remove impurity from the temple and not introduce new defilement. If a thief enters a house, does anyone remove the latch and leave the house ever open? Maharishis have created large pilgrim centres and temples in such a manner that their sanctity is not affected by ordinary impurities. That is why we should go and have darshan in those places, though there would be a temple in our own place. We should purify the temples by removing the existing pollution. One should not change the tenets of religion with political ends in view. If we interfere haphazardly in the working of an electrical machine, we will lose our body. If we interfere in the working of the machine of Spiritual Welfare, we will lose Atma. It is but proper to remove the existing deficiencies. If we make attempts to keep the temple pure, the Gurukkals and trustees will return to the right path. What is new will not last long. When new flood water comes in the river during the month of Adi (Ashadha), it will eat into the banks in some places. We do not worry about it. We need not get angry with new passionate ideas. It will go away on its own. What is permanent in this world? Dictators have ruled at some times in the past. Now the communist system is becoming popular. Nothing is permanent. Just by permitting everyone to go inside the temple, not all will go there. If we go and apprise the people of what is proper, they will listen. The reason why temples do not function properly is that we are not going there. Such matters are covered in the ‘Kriya’ part of Agama.

Next is ‘Yoga’. It talks about how Atma should merge in Iswara; how one should meditate on Him. The final state is covered in the ‘Gnana’ part. This is what Agama is about. Dharmasastra teaches us as to how we should conduct ourselves on our own and in relation to others.

Agama tells about the methods of worship. There are 28 Saiva Agamas. Each of them has four parts. These are all our indigenous Sastras. We do not read them; hence there is no awakening. All education is western; hence there is desire to behave like them. Swadeshi is being indigenous on the outside as well as inside. Being western inside, why to show Swadeshi outside? The reformists do not know our Sastras. As they have not read them, they become angry. We should not get angry with them for their actions. We need to be kind with our opponents too. We should be telling them the principle of our religion. Agama, which was not cared by anybody, is now gaining some currency. Agama also talks about village deities. In those temples there is still a lot of power. Pollution has not entered there too much. Like other religionists going with shoes inside the temples of Siva and Vishnu, they do not go into temples of village deities. As there is wealth in the temples of Siva and Vishnu, they go there for seeing the fun. As there is not much wealth in the temples of village deities, pollution is less. When there is fall where there is much rise, the fall will be swift. It is only in the Tamil and Telugu countries that higher purity was maintained. Now it is here that impurity is higher. The north Indian brahmana may sport a moustache and smoke hookah; even if he has shaved his head, he will still have a small tuft of hair. In our part, people have fully cropped head. In the north, there are disciples of Acharyas of the south. The pure habits of our area attracted them so much. As you travel towards south, impure habits like eating leavings of food of others, cigar, hookah, fish, non-vegetarian food etc. are all less. But the English culture is more here. Englishmen came here first! We have more of their habits. In northerners, though Achara (ritually good conduct) may be less, devotion is higher. In Gujarat, you find more of peaceful nature and firmness. That is the place where Bhagavan Sri Krishna lived. That is the area where Gopikas expressed their devotion. Hence devotion is greater. In Maharashtra, there is more of passion and devotion. In the Telugu country, you find more of harshness and devotion. In Bengal, there is more of deceit and devotion. The Tamils do not involve themselves in anything. If others work, we occupy the leader’s position in time. As all are intelligent here, there is none to follow a leader. In Gurjara country, 70 percent of people do not eat non-vegetarian food. There the term ‘Vaishnavas’ means those who do not eat non-vegetarian food. In our area, there is no restriction on eating animal food for those Vaishnavas who are not brahmanas.

In Veda, Agama, Dharmasastra, Itihasa and Purana, the ways of spiritual wellbeing have been taught. Itihasa tells all dharmas in the form of stories. Purana tells about each dharma as a story. These dharmas are eternal. There is no person’s name associated with our religion. The Acharyas who came in between only emphasised certain paths. Sri Ramanuja said devotion is supreme. Sri Sankara said Gnana is supreme. In the 56 countries (listed as parts of Bharat in ancient texts), countries like Persia are also included. We must make all people accept and practise our dharmas. In our Sastras, there are many paths laid down for advancement in this world as well as the next. In the books of other religions, methods have been taught for achieving comfort in the present life alone. But in our Sastras, ways have been taught for being comfortable as long as one lives here; also for achieving good state after death without difficulty. As we do not study our Sastras and act according to the principles laid down there, we always worry and suffer. Our prayer is that Iswara may bestow good Gnana on us for us to go through our Sastras as far as possible, to learn from those who know well and thus to get rid of our present troubles and reach the supreme state.


VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA

Translated by: P R Kannan, Navi Mumbai


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