anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 14 14:04:51 CDT 1998
This discussion is interesting, but unfortunately it seems to be
generating a lot more heat than throwing light! Let me add my own
comments hoping that my contribution is towards the light-side (pun
not intended) and not the heat-side. (Don't forget it is summer now;
we don't need to generate heat anymore. :-) )
It is well known that karmas enjoined by the Smritis and shrutis
should be learnt from a qualified Guru. If this is the case, then
such karmas must be performed as taught by the Guru. There is no
scope for altering what the Guru taught, unless, of course, the Guru
has mentioned there is a choice in the performance of a karma.
As an example, consider Vedic mantras such as the Purusha sUkta
that are employed in the devatA-pUjA. This has to be chanted exactly
as taught by the AchArya, with the exact accents/pronounciation.
There is no leeway at all here. One cannot claim, "I have bhakti. So
I will chant it any way I like." Nor can anyone think thus: "I
have not been taught the Purusha sUkta. But I have bhakti. So I will
recite it as best as I can with bhakti. God will be pleased." In
fact, the rules for chanting Vedic mantras are quite rigid and have
been this way from time immemorial. So who gives us the authority to
change them now? Also reciting a mantra at lightning speed is no
good either. So such things must be performed correctly.
As Shankara says in his upadesha-panchaka:
"vedo nityamadhIyatAM taduditaM karma svanushhThIyatAM
teneshasya vidhIyatAM ..."
One should study the Vedas constantly, perform the karma(s)
mentioned therein well (correctly) and worship Ishvara (God) with
In the same pUjA, there could be a choice, as in the case of some
stotra that has to be recited. There could be different versions of
a ashhTottara-nAmA-valI (108 names) of a particular God, depending
perhaps on the local region. When there is a choice, of course, we
can chose one that we are comfortable with or like.
Sometimes there are variations that correspond to different
traditions. For example, the famous ShrI Rudram or the shatarudrIya
occurs both in the Shukla Yajur Veda and the Krishna Yajur Veda.
The two versions have different accents (svaras) and there are
some minor textual differences as well. In this case, one may follow
the version learnt from the Guru, be it the Shukla Yajur Vedic
version or the Krishna Yajur Vedic version. Usually one learns the
version of one's own shaakhaa.
In some cases, there may be considerable freedom to worship as in
the case of bhajans. There is nothing that prevents anyone from
composing devotional lyrics/hymns and singing them as an offering
Even if these lyrics lack a high literary value, they are still fit
for praising God because they have been composed in the spirit of
bhakti. Kanakadaasa, who is famous in Karnataka as one of the Hari
daasa's, is said to have belonged to the shepherd community. He was
blocked entry to the Udipi temple by the priests there. But he was
not discouraged. He went to the back of the temple where he could
manage to get a glimpse of the back of the image of Krishna within
the temple. He could only see the Lord through a small window,
called a "khiNDi" in Kannada.
He started singing his daasara-padas (bhakti songs in Kannada)
and lo and behold! The image of Krishna is said to have turned
around so as to face the khiNDi. Kanakadaasa thus had the darshan
of his Lord; the priests could not prevent it.
Now imagine Kanakadaasa had thought of singing the Purusha sUkta
instead, in a tune that he felt appropriate. He would never have
been able to invoke the grace of Krishna this way even if he had
claimed to have bhakti.
The gist is that learning how to worship God correctly is as much
part of bhakti as it is to express the heart-felt bhakti in words
and good/sAttvika intentions.
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>From Wed Jul 15 06:12:40 1998
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 1998 06:12:40 +0530
Reply-To: kamal at homeindia.com
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
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