Monthly Archives: September 2012

Ramayana Controversy

The recent controversy at Delhi University about removing Ramanujam’s scholarly paper on the many Ramayanas, reminds me of a heated dialogue I had with one young man in Delhi several years ago. I don’t want to share my views about the way Ramanujam’s paper was removed from the University syllabus here. My focus is on the controversial views on the Ramayana in particular and all scriptures in general.

The richness of Indian culture and civilization is in its pluralism. Any attempt to impose any kind of uniformity, for whatever ideological reason, will not only fail but also do great harm to our unity in all kinds of diversity. Having various recensions of the great Indian Epics (Ramayana and Mahabharata) more of a blessing than a problem. I have read the original Tulsiramayana and also the Valmiki Ramayana in the English translation and I am presently reading the Kamba Ramayanam in Tamil. Apart from these, there is the Adhyaatma Ramayana in Sanskrit and Krttivasa’s version in Bengali. There are other oral traditions of various versions of the Rama story. Only those who have an opportunity to read various versions of the Ramayana can appreciate and enjoy the diversity we have in India.

Now coming back to my encounter with a young man in Delhi, I went to a book shop to buy A Sanskrit copy of Valmiki’s Ramayana with the Hindi translation. I specifically said that I didn’t want a Geeta Press (Gorakpur) one, as they have distorted several verses of Valmiki’s Ramayana by giving a different kind of translation.

One young man standing next to me become upset and began questioning what wrong I found in Geeta Press’ translation of Valmiki’s Ramayana. I said that wherever it is mentioned in Valmiki’s Ramayana that Rama ate non-veg food, they have omitted or translated it differently. He became very angry and began to challenge me to prove this. He invited me to go to his house where he has many different versions of the Ramayana. As time didn’t permit me to go to his house, I got his address and promised to send my response to him.

I sent the following letter to him, but I never received any response.

Don’t study too many things, it is nothing but mere strain of words   Brh. Up. 4.4.21b.

 

 

October 1, 1996,
Delhi
Dear Sharmaji,

I hope you remember me. We met briefly at M\s Munshiram Manoharlal Pub. Pvt. Ltd. Delhi, on September 28, 1996, where we had a lively discussion on, what Swami Vivekananda calls ‘Text Torturing’.

Before I bring to your kind attention the wrong translation of a few Valmiki Ramayana slokas by M\s Gita Press, Ghorakpur, I whole heartedly appreciate the wonderful service they are rendering to our land by providing Scriptures at a subsided rate. I have high respect and regard for them. At the same time, as a student I am also interested in understanding the right meaning of the text, with correct translation and interpretation.

One problem with scholars is that they have the ability to mislead lay people like me, who have no easy access to various translations and interpretations along with the knowledge of the classic languages like Sanskrit. As a student of Scriptures, I uphold one strong conviction that we must remain honest to the text; however our doctrine may contradict with the right translation and interpretation.

Now coming to Valmiki’s Ramayana. Sri Valmiki presents Sri Rama as a Kshatriya, who upheld dharma all through his life. One interesting point in Valmiki’s Ramayana is the word ‘dharma’, which appears in almost every chapter. To some extent, we can safely say that the main purpose of the Valmiki Ramayana is to guide people to uphold their respective dharma in their lives. We can come across beautiful teachings on the dharma of Raja, Praja (citizen), Pita (father), Putra (son), Pati (husband), Patni (wife), Mitra (friend) etc. However one thing we should remember is that the word dharma in Sanskrit as well as in Pali is not ‘religion’ as is commonly translated.

Being a Kshatriya, Rama followed his dharma. As Kshatriyas ate non-veg food, I find no problem in reading that Rama also ate non-veg food. But in translating those slokas of the Valmiki Ramayana, where it clearly states that Sri Rama ate non-veg, Geeta Press wrongly translated them. As Gita Press promotes Vaishnavism, they may find it difficult to present Rama as a non-vegetarian to the common people. But this they could have very well explain by giving some foot notes, than wrongly translating the text to mislead common people. However I have to take my words back that The Gita Press completely omitted those slokas. I read a Hindi translation of the Valmiki Ramayana a few years before and I don’t exactly remember the Publishers. It may be from Mathuraor Lucknow Publishers and I regret for making such a statement. However, still my point on Gita Press on wrong translation stands and two examples are sufficed here:

“…The two (Rama and Lakshmana) then killed there four great beasts, including a boar, a  white-footed antelope, a spotted antelope and a great deer- and taking the flesh with them, went with all speed, since they were hungry, to the foot of the forest tree, there to spend the night”. (N. Raghunathan, Srimad Valmiki Ramayanam,Madras, Vigneswara Publishing House, 1981, Vol. I, Ayoodhyaa Kanda, Canto LII, The Crossing of the Ganga, p. 291)

The following one from Sundara Kanda should be understood in its given context. When Sitaji asks Hanumanji about the welfare of Sri Rama, Hanuman tells Sitaji that since she had gone missing, Sri Rama had lost interest in everything like eating, sleeping, etc. In that context, Hanumanji says:

“Raghava eats no flesh, he drinks no mead; in the fifth watch of the day he partakes of the prescribed fare produced from forest produce.–with his mind wholly absorbed in thoughts of you,….Wholly given to brooding and grieving, and helpless in the grip of longing, he thinks of nothing else.” (Raghunathan, op. cit. Vol.II, Sundara Kaanda, Canto XXXVI, He gives her Rama’s signet ring. p.428)

As the texts and translations speak for themselves, I have nothing more to add. I am not forcing my view on you, and at the same time I am not going to bother whether you agree with me or not. As Sri Rama was a Kshatriya, I find no problem if he were a Non-vegetarian. Being a king he might have eaten non-veg foods as the Valmiki Ramayana clearly shows in a few places. This doesn’t disturb my respect for Sri Rama in any way. In our country, even Brahmins ate and still are eating non-veg food in some parts like Maitili Brahmins in Bihar and Bengali Brahmins. In our Vedas and Dharma Sastras there are plenty of references to prove this. According to Kane, even a Samnyasi is expected to eat meet in a sradha, where he is invited to take food where non-veg foods were offered. If you want to the references from the various Scriptures and Dharmasastras, I am willing to give them.

Here I close. The intention of writing all this is not to hurt your sentimental attachment towards a particular doctrine (sidhanta) or Institution (e.g. Gita Press) or acharya. But the truth is too precious and we can’t see it being misused for our vested interests.

There is an interesting story in Tiruvilayadal Puranam (The Lila of Siva) in Tamil. Once, in order to test the integrity and scholarship of Nakiirar a devotee of Siva, a great Tamil poet in the dharbar of Senbaga Pandiyan at Madurai, Siva confronted him by composing a Tamil song. When it was brought before the King in the presence of Tamil Sangam, Nakiirar as the head of that Sangam opposed it by pointing out the mistake in it. Then an interesting argument starts between Siva and Nakiirar and finally estranged by the argument put forward by Nakiirar, Siva threatens him by showing his third eye. At that time Nakiirar says, “Even if you open your third eye and burn me, I will proclaim that you are wrong.”

Finally Nakiirar was burnt down by Siva, but later restored to life as he was pleased by the integrity of Nakiirar as the latter come forward even to oppose his favorite deity in order to uphold the Truth. Let us be proud of such a rich heritage of our country.

OmShanti!!

Yours sincerely,

DAYANAND BHARATI

Who is a scholar?

Recently there came a heated debate on ‘Caste’ and ‘Race’ after a Conference at Chennai held in 2010 January in a Forum.  Due to miss communication and lack of understanding few speakers were accused as if promoting ‘casteism’ etc.  Few, who never participated in the full day Conference, after (partially) observing (or listening) and making some comments and statements, left without having no time for further question and clarification.  As they had some other important pre-commitments they could not stay for the whole day meeting.  Whether everyone is satisfied or not with the responses, in the evening finally session an opportunity was provided to ask questions and get response.

People like these who came in half way in a meeting and who (for various reasons) leave in the middle are not only going to get wrong information but will spread it.  Well, it is not going to affect speakers much, as they are not responsible for this.

But what is more important is the way they began to write and criticize the view of the speakers in the name of ‘Scholarship’.   As I am not a scholar, I observed one disturbing trend among some scholars.  They fix a thesis first and try to fix everything—texts, references, historical facts, interpretation etc. within that frame.  The immediate victim to this process apart from truth is ‘texts and history’.  Of course no one can avoid this snare. But a true scholar, after using (or misusing) all the material for her thesis, has to read and even refer the counter argument which she quoted.  Then alone she can arrive to a right conclusion about her thesis.  Even if she is not convinced about the counter argument of her interpretation, at least she should refer them to show that she is not using the materials without considering their counter argument.  This is one of the two important marks of scholarship.

The next is, according to me, a scholar is one who has done research after reading the Original source than reading others work on the original.  For example, a Manu scholar should have read the original text in Sanskrit and various other manuscripts to have firsthand information about them.  Others, however they might have read all the books under the sun about Manusmrti are only learners and students. Of course they can write whatever they want about Manu, but should refrain from thinking themselves as a scholar.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam, July 20, 2010

Silent sadhana

Among all other sadhanas (spiritual discipline?) for me keeping ‘silence’ is the best one.  One cannot avoid ‘noise’ of all forms in life—both within and outside, even in nature.  So practicing ‘silence’ as a sadhana is the most difficult and challenging one.  I am not talking here about silencing the mind through some technics related to the so called ‘yoga’.   According to me we cannot silence something which is not there.  Even if take for granted that we have a mind, the moment we ‘realized’ the silence in our mind or the mind itself will break the very silence.

Well my point is different one.  How to practice the ‘presence of silence’ as a sadhana?  As a talkative person (both outwardly and inwardly) I am not competent to prescribe any steps for this sadhana.  However, as I am interested in this discipline, I would like to share some elementary methods which could help others to invent their own methods.

Don’t get up from the bed quickly.  When you woke up, first lay down for few seconds and silently recall the good sleep that you had.  If you have faith in god and believe in prayer, then thank god for the good sleep that She gave.  Then think about others who are with you either in your room or in the same house.  Thank god for their presence and help/seva that you received through them to have that silence in that morning.   You can at least thank that they are not disturbing your morning silence.

Then get up from the bed as silently as possible without making much noise.  Try to do all other activities silently not disturbing others as well as you.  The point is that your movements should not disturb the silence in your room or house.

If you are lucky to have your own separate bathroom, then try to do all your morning duties with minimum sound and disturbance to you and others.  Even brushing the teeth and answering natural call should be done with less noise.  Opening the tap should be done without disturbing the silence in your bathroom.  I put a long cloth on the mouth of the tap so that water will gather in the bucket without making much noise.

Then I need not tell what all the other activities that one should do then.  All the activities that we need to do should be done with making minimum noise and not disturbing the silence both within you and outside.   For example when I sit for my morning worship and meditation, I will sing a bhajan or chant a mantra first loudly, then wisher it and then will silently recite it.

I know what I narrated so far is easily said than done by anyone—including me.  I have the privilege to live in a remote place outside the society in a quiet and calm place.   As I am staying ‘alone’ I try this sadhana as much as possible.  But others living in society with family and all kinds of responsibilities cannot even think of doing one thing without breaking the silence in form or other.  But no discipline is possible without first trying it.  Even if we fail, we should not give up and try to start again and if needed to do the same first steps again and again till it become part of us.

However we need to keep few things in mind before attempting to do this sadhana.  First is that we need not begin this only from the morning, but can be practiced at time of the day according to our convenience.  Next is that we need not learn this discipline from another person, or any center.  Finally, one should not even read this kind of article on this subject.  Because when it comes to spiritual discipline (sadhana) we should invent our own according to our temperament, vocation need and circumstance.  Above all, sadhana of silence should be done on our own interest and not promoted by others.

Dayanand Bharati

Gurukulam.  September 7, 2012.

 

Victim and Fault Finding

I am not the best person to talk about this issue.  However as I have observed the life of several families and also faced similar situation in life (thankfully without a life partner but through other relationship), I can share the common issue, though, as usual, there will be variations.

The relationship between husband and wife is a delicate and complex one.  Unlike other relationship, where we all enjoy love, care, concern, yet some kind of distance could be maintained knowing each other’s strength and weakness.  But as they become one ‘flesh’ in all its meaning and purpose, husband and wife have to live with a ‘love and hate’ relationship, always tossed and separated by the waves of emotion in their life.  In that relationship, as they both contribute not only to their personal life but also to their immediate family (their children) and near families (their parents) and others there will be several complex feelings.  Sometimes failure in their commitment and responsibilities which they made and knew bring not only tension between them but also complex feeling and guilty conscience.  And the party which feels become a victim will have some kind of superiority complex as s/he accomplished the work independently or with less cooperation of the life partner.  And naturally the other will have some kind of inferiority complex and guilty conscience as s/he though willing and tried sincerely could not do her/his part to the responsibility and commitment.

And in such scenario, as I have observed, the common way to overcome any guilty conscience and inferiority complex (as well as victim feeling and superiority complex too) is ‘fault’ finding.  As s/he failed or successful, whether articulated or not (which most of the time will be done—either by words or actions) fault finding is unavoidable.  Personally I think this is not wrong as it one way helps to release the stress initially—however caution should be there not allow it to create new stress.  At this stage it is not the question of ‘toleration’ or ‘forgiveness’ comes.  As they know each other well, even this fault finding will only end up in better understanding.  However, the best solution to keep the good relationship based on commitment and responsibility is not to ‘react’ when the partner become a fault finder for some time.

Fault finding is a mental sickness and whoever do it should be approached and handled sympathetically than counter argue with them, which will worsen their condition and add others burden.  Several times the best treatment for such person is to allow them to find fault.  And if the opponent managed to keep quite—not playing the ‘victim card’, it will become the best medicine (or counsel or treatment) for the fault finder later to think their mistake, failures and repent.  In true relationship there is no place for any isolated/individual victim.

Dayanand Bharati, Gurukulam,April 24, 2011

Bhakti a sadhana or strain

When I took my brother and his wife to Badrinath and Kedarnath the car driver, on the way asked me one question: ‘We know and also taught by our elders that gods are within us and also in our puja room and local temples.  Of course going to some pilgrimage is also part of sadhana in our bhakti.  But why people want to go to such difficult pilgrim centers in remote mountains after negotiating all kinds of danger?  Is gods expects us to come and worship them only at such places with much difficulties and dangers’?

In response I said that taking extreme physical pains and difficulties is considered as part of prayaschitta for the sins of commission and omission.  Of course all those who go to such remote pilgrim centers know about the dangers.  But as it gives some kind of mental satisfaction they are ready to take such risks.

However after the recent accident near Pokara in Nepal (May 9th, 2012) after the visit to Mukteswar, again the question of that driver came to my mind.  This is not the first time that accident happened and won’t be the lost one.  Because it is in a dangerous altitude and the services provided by private airlines in Nepal for this pilgrim place is not up to the mark of keeping all kinds of safety measures.  However, before going to such remote places without proper facilities needs to be questioned.  Of course I completely agree for the desire of people to go to remote and extreme dangerous places both for adventure and trekking.  To enjoy some special kind of natural beauty one has to ready for such risk.  However, people trained properly and the team that take them to such trekking have all kinds of facilities and in some cases they give proper orientation and if needed practical training before taking tourists to such places.  When I went to Pindari glacier, I was given a proper orientation by my disciple who runs a business of trekking in Himalayas.  As commercialization corrupted everything—tour and pilgrim packages, people should think twice even thrice before planning to go such extremely remote places.  Though I never question their bhakti and sadhna, if their aim is to have a darshan of their deities, it is available in approachable places within their (safe) reach.  And if their desire is both a mixture of adventure plus pilgrimage, then careful planning, preparation and choosing right kind of agency to take them there is important.  Otherwise such tragedies cannot be avoided.

Of course such accidents will be again explained as gods’ wrath on certain failures in the ritual purity or procedures or karma of the sadhakas (devotees).  For example on every car accidents during Ayappa pilgrimage in South India, it is blamed as a punishment for the failures of the certain vows by the devotees compromising with ritual purity that is required by that deity Ayyappa and never the mistake of the driver.  The daughter of a pilgrim killed in Pokara accident told to the media reporter that though it is a tragedy for the whole family, yet as god choose to take her father during the pilgrimage, she is sure of his father going to the abode of Vishnu. I have witnessed such an attitude during my visit to various pilgrim places in Himalaya like Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.  Pilgrims don’t mind if they get killed in any accident in such place as it will assure them immediate mukti.  Such explanation will help to console the family members but never will caution us to think seriously about the safety measure that need to be considered on such pilgrimage—particularly to remote places.

Dayanand Bharati.  May 18, 2012

Demanding God

Sri Nellai Kannan is one of my favorite Tamil speakers and writer.  Rarely one can find a combination of scholarship and presenting it for everyone to understand it.  I am a great fan of him.  One more interesting thing with Kannan is that the way he is straightforward and outspoken even on controversial issues, in which others might hesitate to share their opinion openly.  But Kannan, with a clear conviction and clarity on his subject presents his view with authentic information—which rarely others can disagree with.

So when he speaks these days in Sun T.V. in the morning program (Suriya Vanakkam) on various topics, particularly related with Tamil, I never want to miss it.  So with his usual eloquence and oratory skill, both yesterday (September 13th) and today (14th) spoke about ‘spirituality’ (aanmeeham).  As I already said, he presented his view by quoting various Tamil songs from wide range of Tamil literature and I was amazed the way he could quote verbatim from all kinds of Tamil literature from memory.  His scholarship on Kammaramayana and Kural is undisputed one.

Though I agreed with what all he said about the true mark of spirituality, yet I would like to have different opinion on few points.  Of course all his advice to common people about the need of true spirituality are welcoming one.  The way he could gently rebuke people about the need of realism in all their approach in bhakti and faith in god is in need all the time.  For example, after quoting few Tamil poems of saints, he said that we need not go and even ask god anything, as She already knew what all our requirements are.  ‘When we born, god already arranged who should be our father, mother, brother, relatives; what all our needs etc.  So we need not go to the temple to ask god anything which She does not already provided.  And even if was ask, god is not going to grants them as they are “not required in our life”’.

Well who can disagree with such a reality when it comes to god and Her relationship with Her own creation.  However quoting the saints as the example and their poems as the guiding principle looks nothing but idealism to me.  For example on September 14th continuing the same topic of true mark of spirituality, Kannan quoting several poems of siddhas (Sivavakiyar, Pattinattar etc.) clearly point out the vanity of idol worship and need of single minded devotion to god with a conscious bhakti with Her.  But for me all saints are exception and their example cannot be followed by common people who have to struggle a lot in everyday life.  In fact, these common people alone bore all the burden of the life for these saints to emerge and become exemplary one among the ordinary people.

These saints are ‘exception’ to the common people and aberration to the orthodoxy.  That is why though people venerate them and glorify their teaching, yet rarely their example and teachings are remotely followed by common people amidst their struggle and need in mundane life.

The saints are exception to the common rule could be understood by the fact that except the name of few, who are often referred and quoted, most of the common people even don’t know most of them.  Among the 63 Saiva saints, people will quote the famous four (Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and Manikkavasagar) and may be few more.  Among the 12 Alvars few are well known like Andal and Periyazhavar.  Of course this is not limited only with Hindus.  Ask the common Christian to tell the name of all the 12 disciples of Muktinath (Jesus)?  We know Prophet Mohammad, but even I don’t know the name of his wife and successor.  I know one Ali, but I don’t know what his relationship with Prophet Mohammad is.

Does it mean that the life and teaching of saints need not be taken seriously?  Of course we should take them seriously.  But instead of criticizing people not living up to their level of maturity and achievement, we should rather encourage common people ‘not to give up’ even though such idealism will remain a distant reality in life.  The life and teachings of the saints always encourage me when I feel discouraged and depressed.  But all idealism that is carved out of their life and teaching, forgetting the defeats, failures and discouragement they faced to reach that stage will never help common people to have their life and teaching as a goal to be achieved one day.   For me saints are good inspiration but not best model for common people to imitate.

Because all the saints never lived up to the ideal which we want to project from their teaching and life.  For example, another important Saiva Saint who is also known as ‘friend of god’ (Tambiran Thozar) always ‘demanded’ not only the need for everyday life but even to lead a luxury life both for him and his wife:

13. நாகைக் காரோணர்

பண்மயத்த மொழிப்பரவை சங்கிலிக்கும்

எனக்கும் பற்றாய பெருமானே!

மற்று யாரை உடையேன்?

உண்மயத்த உமக்கு அடியேன் குறைதீர்க்க

வேண்டும், ஒளிமுத்தம், பூணாரம்

ஒண்பட்டும் பூவும்

கண்மயத்த கத்தூரி, கமழ்ச் சாந்தும் வேண்டும்.(–சுந்தரர்.)

–வேங்கடம் முதல் குமரி வரை. தொ. மு. பாஸ்கரத்தொண்டைமான். சென்னை, நல்லறப் பதிப்பகம்,  2009. ஆறு தொகுதிகள். ப. 141

Beloved lord both for me and (my wife) Paravai, whom else I have other than you. You have to remove the shortage of your bhakta.  I need pearls, jewels, silk cloths , flowers, Kasturi and other scented items.—[T. M. Baskarat Thondaiman, Venkatam Mudal Kumari Varai [from Venkadam to Kumari], Chennai, Nallarappadippagam, 2009, 6 vols. Vol. 3. p. 141.  Not only here but Sundarar asked so many times gold, paddy and other things from the Lord in different pilgrimage centers.

For me the my difference with Sri Kannan is not only about quoting the saints and their teaching but ‘not’ mentioning and quoting the life and teaching of other saints who asked god for various kinds of things in their life.

This topic on prayer has several dimensions and presenting one view won’t do justice to it and also meet our need.  For example, Manikkavasagar says:

வேண்டத்தக்க தறிவோய்நீ வேண்டமுழுதுந் தருவோய்நீ

வேண்டும் அயன்மாற் கரியோய்நீ வேண்டி என்னைப் பணிகொண்டாய்

வேண்டி நீயா தருள்செய்தாய் யானும் அதுவே வேண்டினேன் அல்லால்

வேண்டும் பரிசொன் றுண்டென்னில் அதுவும் உன்றன் விருப்பன்றே.- குழைத்தப்பத்து, -6

–you know what my need is; you will provide what all I need; you are rare indeed for Brahma and Vishnu; you voluntarily called me for your service; voluntarily you gave me your grace; I too requested the same; if there is something I need, I will leave that too for your choice. (Kuzhaitapp pathu, 6).

Does this mean Manikkavasagar has more maturity than Sundarar as he often asked gold, paddy, jewel etc.?  For me their life and songs presents various dimensions about our bhakti.  For me while Mannikkavasagar had ‘dasabhava bhakti’ (servant) Sundarar had ‘sakhya bhava bhakti’ (friendship).  Thankfully our tradition gives room for all kinds of bhakti known as navadhana1 bhakti (nine forms of bhakti).  One need not have only one kind of bhakti all the time.  Every human relationship has various dimensions.  A father can be a friend, a friend remains always another brother, and wife has various roles (counselor, companion, servant, mother etc.) in her husband’s life.  So we too can have different kinds of bhakti depending upon our need and mood.  And for me ‘dasabhava and atmanivedanam’ (servant and total surrender) need not portray maturity and sakhya bhava and kanta bhava (friend and wife) bhaktis are on the process of maturity.  Each bhakti is matured one in its own level the difference is only in its kind and not in degree.

For me prayer is not simply ‘demanding’ our need in life to god. It expresses more of our relationship.  Of course god knows our need and She has already arranged them for our legitimate needs and sometimes serves some extra sweet—as the famous saying goes: god not only provides our daily bread but also provides extra slice of cake.  So god knows what we need but She also enjoys when we ask for others things which we think need for us.  If deciding our needs is god’s right, demanding (what we think we need) is also our right which god respects and accepts.  So noting wrong is presenting a list to god about all our desires.  It is like a child giving a list of things that she wants for her birth day and with the innocence of a child might expect her parents to give all those gifts. But her parent finally decides about the gift and they know how to convince her about not receiving other gifts.  But this asking/demanding part is crucial for relationship between parents and child—god and bhakta.

Another important point which Sri Kannan told after quoting Pattinattar is lack of single minded devotion—at least in our worship and puja time:

கையொன்று செய்ய விழியொன்று நாடக் கருத் தொன்றெண்ணப்

பொய்யொன்று வஞ்சக நாவொன்று பேசப் புலால்கமழும்

மெய்யொன்று சாரச்செவியொன்று கேட்க விரும்புமியான்

செய்கின்ற பூசையெவ் வாறுகொள் வாய்வினை தீர்த்தவனே.–பொது , 4.

–hand doing one thing (by throwing flowers), eyes seeking another; mind thinking different one; my tongue tell lie (as it is not chanting the mantra or singing the bhajan with sincere devotion, the mantra and bhajans that I sing is nothing but a lie—is the interpretation given by Kannan); and the body seek another (pleasure) and the ear desires to listen different thing, how you will accept my puja (oh god) the one who has removed my karmas.—Pattinathar.

But for me this is also idealism.  Because our mind (rather brain) is multifunctional.  When we do a thing it has the capacity to pay attention and think other things simultaneously.  And I don’t think god is going to upset with us for such a puja.  God accepts us with all our limitation.  She never expects a perfect bhakta.  She knows our limitation and struggle.  She will be happy that we could still worship Her in spite of our lack of concentration and single minded devotion to Her.  Except those who has perfected all the eight steps of Patanjali yoga, others cannot say that they can do a thing with single minded devotion in which mind (brain) won’t be active on other activities.2  I don’t say because I failed in this sadhana (spiritual discipline).  But this is the reality which we need to accept and continue to do our part sincerely and faithfully.

When we sit and talk with other close members in our immediate family, we know that while we talk or they listen they have other thoughts in their mind (brain).  But this is not going to irritate us or affect our relationship.  Of course in any serious discussion not paying attention and deliberately showing our indifference (as a mark of our disagreement or anger) will irritate others.  But in normal life, in all our activities, conversation, listening and watching etc. our mind (brain) is going to pay attention to other things.  Interestingly if we note, Kannan while looking at the camera and talk will sometimes will look others who are not visible to us.  This does not mean he is not paying attention to his talk.  While concentrating on his talk, he can pay attention to other activities going around him.  The same is when we do our puja.  So quoting from the poems of saints,  who themselves never reached this perfection, we can remind others about need of more concentration is such sadhanas, but criticizing  such worship as false is not going to help people to change their practice.  Of course those who listens such talk are not going to stop their puja but knowing the limitation of all, even that of the speaker will carry on their routine as usual.  Interestingly Pattinathar in this song condemns his own puja and not others.  This poems is more of a confession than any criticism on others puja.

Every idealism is important one as it will inspire others and motivate them to overcome shortcomings.  But it is not going to bring radical change in a set pattern of life immediately.  So the life of the saints and their teaching may inspire us but they will never become our model—as they are not part of our everyday life and its need.

See further on my article on Prayer.

Dayanand Bharati.  Gurukulam.

September 14, 2012.

  1. …[In] Bhaagavatapuraana (Pandit Pustakalaya, Kasi, 1969),… we come across as many as nineteen different classification of bhakti, ranging from a threefold devotion to a thirty-six fold devotion, although a ninefold devotion [Bhaagavatapuraana, VII.5.23; XI.6.9] comprising sravanam (hearing) (XI.6.9), kiirtanam (changing) (XII.3.52), smarnam (remembering) (XII.12.54), Paadasevanam (service at Bhagavaan’s feet), arcanam (offering worship), vandanam (praising) (XI.27.9), Daasyam (servitude and humility), sakhyam (friendship), (p.173) aatmanivedaman (self-surrendered) (XI.29.34), is more frequently recognised and recommended….— Vijay Nath, Puraanas and Acculturation: A Historico-Anthropological Perspective, Munshirma Manoharlal, New Delhi, 2001, pp.173-4
  2. …In  Patanjali’s tradition it is said that when the mind is held immobile for the space of twelve restrained and elongated breaths the state of dharana may be said to being.  Dharana is the first stage of concentration in Patanjali’s tradition.  Dhyana, meditation, and samadhi, trance, are more demanding….—— Thomas McEvilley, Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies, Delhi, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, (2002), First Indian Edition, 2008. p. 180