Sri Chandramoulisvaraya Namah:
VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA (Regd.)
Publication No. 44
Before we consider the question raised in the title, we have to look into certain matters. That is whether our nation has advanced in civilisation in the last hundred years.
The beginning of everything is bodily purity. Before hundred years there was not even one in a hundred persons, who did not clean himself after passing urine and stools with soil and water. Now the situation is that not even one in a hundred cleans that way. We should consider properly whether this is advance of humanity or animalism.
Many of us think that the whites are cleaner than us and that we shall follow their method of cleanliness. They have devised certain expensive methods of cleanliness with funds obtained through coercing and ruling over other countries. That method is also mere superficial show. If we go deeply, it is all very dirty. Though dirty, if we adopt that method, we will incur huge expenses. We, who are short of food and water, have abandoned the simple and clean hand- practice handed to us by our Maharishis, looked up at ‘glass fruit’ and got the name that Hindus are very ignorant people, by being neither here nor there.
If we understand well the rules prescribed by our Manu and others, spread that knowledge among all and adopt those practices, the dirt seen in our streets and on the banks of rivers and ponds, and the ignominy hurled at us by newspapers like Mail will disappear.
Even the white experts, who came to examine our ancient practices of construction of towns and villages, have generally opined that the kind of practices adopted here, suited to comfortable living and good health are not seen in any other country. In respect of bodily cleanliness, looking at the indecent practices followed now by our people, they criticise that nowhere in the world are people so uncivilised.
This indecency is the result of not adopting the practices prescribed in our Dharma sastras. Kings like Manu and sages have written books of dharma based on the intent of Vedas. The cleaning (Soucha) method prescribed in them is not only meant to keep the body clean, but also to keep the mind pure. This method is inexpensive also.
What is Soucham? Soucham is the quality of one who is ‘suchi’ or the method of becoming ‘suchi’. One who is pure outside and inside is called ‘suchi’ and also ‘puta’, ‘pavitra’ and ‘medhya’.
Purity is of two kinds, bahya (outer) purity and aabhyantara (inner) purity. Cleaning the outer bodily impurities using soil, water, aamalaka (nellikkai), madhuka (iluppai) seeds after extracting oil (pinnakku), madhuka powder, shikakai powder etc. is outer purification. Inner purification is removal of impurities arising in mind frequently through practice of contrary good thoughts.
While performing any Vedic karma, dvijas should maintain inner and outer purity right from beginning of karma till Brahmarpanam (surrendering the karma to Brahman at the end of karma). At the beginning of each karma, Aachamanam should be performed to keep inner purity. Karma should be performed, wearing clean clothes, pavitram (made of darbha) in the finger and clean yagnopavita. All karmas should be performed only after performing Sandhyavandanam; this is emphasised in Smriti.
Though we may be determined mentally to retain inner and outer purity, we should do Aachamanam to counter any subtle impurity that has occurred or might occur and begin the karma with thought of Iswara.
At the beginning of sankalpa of karma, we chant the mantra:
‘Apavitrah pavitro va sarvavasthan gathopiva~
Yasmaret Pundarikaksham sa bahyaabhyantarassuchih’, as taught by our elders, meaning ‘whether one is pure, impure or is in any despicable condition, he attains inner and outer purity by thinking of Pundarikaksha (lotus-eyed) Iswara. As ‘smaranam’ (thinking) is mentioned at the beginning of the list of nine methods of bhakti, what doubt can be there in that the moment one remembers Bhagavan, that Sarveswara, who is captured by devotion, residing in the heart-lotus of the devotee, would render his body and mind pure and activate good thoughts?
The great Manu and the Mahayogiswara Yagnavalkya have said that Guru, after completing the upanayana samskara for the disciple, should first teach him the methods of Soucham (purification), followed by practices like Snanam, Aachamanam etc. and Samidadhanam in morning and evening and Sandhyavandanam three times a day etc. When a pure person sees an impure one, he develops disgust. One who is impure catches a serious disease called ‘Arochakam’ (meaning loss of shine, appetite; causing disgust etc.). One who is impure should be called a crow or ‘Huna’ (barbarian).
The 12 impurities arising in our body are:
Oily exudation, semen, blood, pus, urine, stools, phlegm in nose, wax in ear, phlegm in mouth, tears, impurity in eyes and sweat.
Out of these, for cleaning the first six impurities, soil and water should both be used. The latter six may be cleaned by use of water only.
While cleaning, one should take water in containers and clean attentively till the smell and the impurity go away completely; one should not clean direct in river or tank.
Sri Vignaneswara, author of Mithakshara, says that specification of the number of times of use of water, soil etc. relates to the unseen benefits. Bhagavan teaches in the beginning of 16th chapter of Gita that he alone, who is born with satva quality leading to development of divine attributes, owing to merit accumulated in previous lives, is seen to have good qualities like Soucham etc.; this applies to all four varnas. In the same chapter, in the 7th sloka, he says that one cannot find Soucham, Aacharam, interest in good acts, disinterest in bad acts, telling the truth etc. in those who are endowed with Asuric wealth and tamoguna. Further, in 13th chapter, he has described twenty attributes like Soucham etc. as instrument of Gnana:
“Amaanitvam adambhitvam ahimsa kshaantir aarjavam|
Acharyopasanam soucham sthairyam atmavinigrahah||” (7)
In his commentary on this sloka, Srimad Bhagavatpada Acharya has said: Soucham results from the washing away of bodily defilements with soil and water externally, and internally, from the removal of defilements like attachment from mind by cultivating their opposites.
Great men like Srimad Madhusudana Saraswati have written in detail in a manner clear even to ordinary people about Soucham. Further, in Manusmriti, while talking about the duty of protecting women, he says in the 9th chapter that women can never be protected by coercion, but could be made to obey through kind advice and assigning certain duties to them. These duties are:
Attending to expenses on household maintenance; carrying out Soucham; dharma including service to father-in-law, mother-in-law and husband, cooking, looking after materials in the house etc. It is clear that because all dharma of grihastha will be carried out properly only with the the purity and sincerity of wife, soucham is essential for the couple. From the following it will be clear that there is no special effort needed for knowing and practising the soucha methods.
- For passing urine and stools, one must face north in day time and south in night time. Soucham (cleaning) follows the same rule. Soucham should be done first for anus, then for urinary organ, followed by left hand, right hand and feet in that order. Soil and water should be used alternately in soucham. Soil should be used 5 times for anus, 2 times for urinary organ, 10 times for left hand, 7 times each for both hands and 7 times each for both feet. The number of times may be reduced slightly if bad smell has gone away. But soucham should never be done sitting direct in water. If unavoidable on a rare occasion, one should sit outside water, take water in right hand and pour in left hand and do the washing.
- Eating food and passing stools and urine should be done secretly; if done openly, Lakshmi will go away.
- The number of times soucham with soil required to be done by brahmacharis is twice as stated earlier and for sanyasis, it is four times.
- The required number of times of soucham in night is half of what is given above, quarter in case of journey and as much as feasible in case of the sick.
- The quantity of soil to be taken every time is of an aamalaka size; for urination, it can be of ‘karira’ (tuduvilangai) size.
- If excreta and urine come into contact with any body part, soucham with soil should be done there.
- After soucham is done, one should wear dhoti (kachcham) and tuft of hair properly, wash feet upto knees and hands upto elbows and do aachamanam.
- Rule for aachamanam: One should sit facing east, north-east or north in ‘kukkutasanam’ (on feet), have both hands inside the knees, touch water with the finger of left hand and do aachamanam. After aachamanam, he should wipe the lips twice with the base of thumb and once with the remaining four fingers, utter names of the Lord starting with Kesava and touch the respective part of body. While doing aachamanam, he should keep his right hand like the ear of cow and take water which will just immerse one piece of urid dal for sipping. At no time aachamanam should be done facing south or west. Aachamanam should not be done with hot water or perfumed water. Aachamanam may be done, standing in water upto knee level. The benefit of purity of aachamanam done as per rules is high.
There is duty and discipline for everyone. Following it is essential. The entire world is controlled by Truth. If Truth is violated, everything will become perverse. The sea does not cross its limits due to control of Truth. If not, it can drown the earth in one day. Has anybody fixed its boundary? Can it ever be done? Hence, only if everyone is sincere to Truth and follows the rules of Sastras, it will rain at the appropriate time; wind will blow at the appropriate time; truth will develop and the nation will prosper. If one is violated, everything will go haywire and the world will degenerate. Even if we perform every day activities like snanam, soucham, Sandhyavandanam, Japa etc., not doing them in time and not doing properly and doing as if under pressure and without sincerity will not bear fruit. Whatever we do, there will be benefit only if we do it with devotion and sincerity. As per the saying ‘Whatever you do, do it perfectly’, we should do actions as per the methods laid down in Sastras. Though there are rules on the number of times a certain act is to be performed by dvijas, instead of doing it improperly and erroneously in thousands of numbers, it is far better to do it only ten times, but properly. Just as a guest who comes to our home will be displeased if we serve him different dishes, but without kindness and with disgust, Iswara too will show his grace in the same way in response to acts done without sincerity. The adage says: ‘Sastraya cha sukhaya cha’. Sastras are there to give us comfort, not to make us miserable; but while looking at action as per Sastras and doing it, it will appear tough. The castor oil is unpalatable while consuming, but everyone knows how much good it does to the health once it is taken. Similarly getting up before 4 nazhigas (1 hr, 36 min) prior to sunrise and doing karmas like snanam, soucham, Sandhyavandanam, Japa, Homam, Pooja etc. as prescribed even in winter time will certainly appear tough at the beginning. Getting up by 7 or 8 a.m. long after sunrise and drinking hot coffee without snanam, Sandhya etc. will no doubt be joyous. But if one looks at tejas (brilliance) etc., it will be clear as to who is indeed comfortable.
Hence everyone should as far as possible attempt to perform all actions in accordance with rules of Sastras. On matters which we are not aware of, we should find out from those who know and act properly. We should not conclude that what we do is correct. If we find something as correct, we should investigate it in consultation with the knowledgeable. Let us progress in the grace of sidelong glance of Sarveswara by being devoted to him for ever.
VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA
Translated by: P R Kannan, Navi Mumbai
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