Acharya's Call Part-II

H.H. JAGADGURU’S Madras Discourses


Part II

HH Mahaswamiji
13    Cultural Unity of India

In the immediate presence of His Holiness Jagadguru Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, the disciples and admirers of Sri Reva Shankar Bacherbhai Trivedi, the reputed Vedic Scholar of Gujarat, offered him an Abhinandana Grantha (commemoration volume). On that occasion, His Holiness made the following speech.

Sama Veda occupies a high place among Vedas, as can be seen from the various references to it occurring in our sacred books. For instance, Bhagavan Krishna says in the Gita “I am the Sama veda among the four Vedas” (Vedaanaam saamavedosmi, वॆदानाम् सामवॆदोस्मि). In Lalitaa Sahasranaama, Devi is referred to as saamagaanapriya. In the Siva ashtottara, Siva is addressed as saamapriyah. Thus, this Divine Trinity is associated with the glory of Sama veda. In these days, when the number of persons engaged in veda adhyayana (study of the Vedas) is getting fewer and fewer, the number of persons devoted to the study of Sama veda is extremely few. Sri Trivedi is one of those rare scholars  who has made a life-time study of the Sama Veda and mastered it. He is also proficient in jyothisha sastra (astrology). Honouring Sri Trivedi is honoring Sama veda, which again means worshipping Sri Krishna, Sri Lalitambika and Sri Parameswara.

The function at which tributes were paid to Sri Trivedi in seven languages is a notable one in certain respects. Rich merchants, hailing from far-off Gujarat participated in honoring a Vedic scholar, who combined scholarship with aachaara and anushtaana (conduct of life and observances enjoined by Sastra) like our ancient rishis. This should provide a great lesson to the people in the south. We relegate people who have made veda adhyayana to the background and to an inferior status in society. We do not show them due honor. But, these merchants have set us a worthy example. We should feel happy and thankful for it. It is also a happy thing that this function is held in our midst. Our part of the country is spoken of as Dravida desa, as distinct from the northern parts. Such a distinction is wrong; for, we are not the only Dravidas in the country. Our saastraas make mention of the pancha dravidas, and these five Dravida groups are the Gurjaras, the Karnatakas, the Andhras, the Maharashtras, and the Tamilians. Though Western philologists say that Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, and Kannada alone are Dravidian languages, our saastraas have included other groups also among the pancha dravidas. Gurjara of Gujarat is also Dravida, and so. in honoring Sri Trivedi, we are also honoring a Dravida scholar.

It is also wrong to classify the people of this land into Aryan and Dravidian. In Sanskrit, Arya means, worthy of respect, and anaarya means, not worthy of honor or worship. Whoever is worthy of respect or honor is Arya, and, therefore, Aryans are not people belonging to any particular part of the country.

Our country, stretching from the southern ocean to the Himalayas, has often been broken up into numerous States, big and small. Yet there is always the belief that ours is one country. That belief is rooted in the Vedas, our common heritage. The Vedas are expressed in Sanskrit. The Sanskrit language is not confined to the shores of India alone. It was once prevalent in distant Siam, Cambodia, Java, Bali, and other countries. Sanskrit language and literature are studied with interest in those countries, and also in Western countries, whose languages have Sanskrit roots. It is sad to contemplate that instead of preserving and promoting this language, which is so rich and which was once so universal, attempts are made in this country to discourage its study. Sanskrit has been a unifying force wherever it was prevalent and Sanskrit alone can knit our country together and keep it as one. It can unify all Asian countries and the world as well.

Apart from our common heritage of the Vedas and the Sanskrit language, there is another significant fact. The Tolkappiam and the Silappadikaaram are the oldest works in the Tamil language. Tolkappiam refers to what are known as Aintinai (ஐந்திணை), five Tinais. One Tinai is connected with Sri Durga, and another with Balarama and Sri Krishna. In Silappadikaaram there is a reference to the chorus music of shepherdesses, known as Aachiar Kuravai narrating the story of Sri Krishna. Thus from the Himalayas in the north to Kanyakumari in the south, the story of Krishna, his baalya leelas (exploits as a child) and his jnaanopadesam (advice of enlightenment) are the common themes of folk songs throughout the country. It is very appropriate that we, in Tamil Nadu, who are accustomed to the recital of Sri Krishna Leela in our folk songs, should gather to honor a great Vedic scholar who hails from that part of our country where according to tradition, Sri Krishna lived.

January 26, 1958.

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