Vaidya N. Sundaram sundaram at ECN.PURDUE.EDU
Mon Jul 13 15:01:08 CDT 1998


On Sun, 12 Jul 1998, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:

> Vaidya N. Sundaram wrote:
> >  All this tells me that, all three are important (mantram, kriya, and
> > bhakti), but just because one or more is lacking, do not neglect it. In
> > fact, worship by a specific puja is considered as waking up the sleeping
> > tiger. Once you accept the responsibility to do the puja, say for example,
> > the panchayatana puja, forsaking it even for a day is neglecting it. It is
> > more important to keep the discipline up than give it up because of
> > concerns of not being able to do it right. If every body started thinking
> > that they will do it once they know it WELL, then there will be no
> > yajnyams at all!!
> I beg to disagree. The smR^iti is explicit that wrong performance of
> pa.chAyatana is exteremely dangerous. BTW, this is from a Kanchi Matha
> publication. At least that must mean something to you :-).
> It is not difficult to learn these rules. But it requires some effort.
> Is it that big a deal to go to some Shankara matha when visiting India?
> Sorry, I don't think so. IMO it is sheer laziness. As I said
> prAyaschittam is fine after one makes a serious effort to learn.

 I fully understand the importance of the proper leraning of the
methodologies and the proper reasons for doing a karma.
 BTW, I have attended three camps organised by HH SankaraVijayendra
Saraswati of Kanchi Kama Koti Peetam at Kanchipuram. Each of the three
lasted atleast a week, and one was as long as 9 days. I have had the good
fortune of attending the Maha Kumbhabhishekam of the Kanchi temple under
the auspicies of His Holiness, when He explained in brief, the importance
of such religious acts, for the welfare of the public all over the world.
I mean only, I have taken some effort, even if it may be classified as
fortuitous that I was one of those priviliged to attend them.

> My mothers athimber did Sri chakra pUjA. Towards his end, he had some
> serious physical and mental problems which was attributed to wrong
> performance of the pUjA. His daughter realized that there was none in
> the family who were interested enough in properly learning the rules.
> She donated it to the Sringeri Mutt. My fathers father was not the first
> son of the family and did not inherit the panchayatana set from his
> father. My fathers cousin who inherited it felt towards the end that
> many of his misfortunes were due to incorrect performance of the
> panchayatana puja and gave it off to my father (I know a couple of other
> cases where the people were suffering some misfortunes and were also
> doing panchayatana pUjA wrongly)

 Can I (or you) or any one else claim that this is the sole reason for
some misfortune? It seems strange and even harping on the so called
"superstitios" to claim: you are sick because of the Lord's wrath which
you incurred by the improper performance of a karma. I am sorry. I cannot
accept that. Are you so sure of the laws of karma, myraid and complex as
they are, lasting over biliions of lives, involving uncountable data
points, laws and rules so involved, that you can take one data point and
extrapolate (or interpolate) and say, Surely, he is sick because of
non-observance of a certain rule!!
 And, even if you say you have done all that you know has to be done, what
in the world gives you the surety that you know all (I mean ALL) there is
to know about the karma or rules to be followed in the observance of a
 Do you know the proper rules governing the muhurtams to be chosen to do a
karma?. Do you know of the proper rules of purifying the place of worship?
Do you know the proper attire to wear? Do you know if you are to feed a
Brahmin at the end of the karma? May be two Brahmins? Can a Shudra be
allowed to enter your house when you are performing the karma? (and then
we need to define who a shudra is!!!) I can go on asking such questions.
And surely, you cannot say they are ALL of no relevance. Some of my
questions may be irrelevant, not ALL. And as long as you know that you do
not know if (i.e whether) you have followed ALL the rules, you have some
defect that you have to be guilty of. (A complex sentence construct i
tried to avoid, but could not. Sorry!!)

 As fond as we seem to be, of quoting the srutis and smritis in our
favour, some thing I have been guilty of already!, let me add to the large
body of references this Advaita mailing List contains.
 In the Ramayana, there is a description of the Lineage of Sri Rama.
Every one of his ancestors, starting from Manu Himself is described IN
DETAIL. One such person was called "Tri-Bandh-anan" (I have added the
hypens in the name to make the meaning clear). The name was given to him
because he had three (and mind you, only three!!) reasons preventing him
from going to Lord Narayanas abode. One of his trangresions was: he had
not properly purified the place of worship. Now, my question is, he who
was in the line of Manu Himself, he, Tribandhanan, whose name is used to
glorify Sri rama Himself, he himself was guilty of not conforming to the
LAW. What to say of petty mortals like us!!!
 In the realm of mortals, where mortals are so fond of making laws and
rules etc, ignorance of the law is no defense of the law. Agreed. The same
is true of the Holy law is your claim. But even in our mortals law, there
is something called "Temporary Insanity". Meaning, you did not know what
you were doing when you commited your act. Meaning that you were not in
full control of your faculties when you committed the crime. My arguments
(and i believe a few others also) is that, such a defense is available in
His law also. He is called HrishiKesha. One who is the controller of the
senses. It seems like I am stupid enough to blame Hrishikesha Himself for
my faults. What am I to do? Abandon karma altogether as a sanyasi?
Probably yes. But what do I do if I do not have the proper vairagyam yet?

 I stand by my point (for what it is worth!) that: if you wait till you
can learn all the rules governing the performance of one specified karma,
you will never do it (the karma you wish to).

> IMO, it makes more sense to donate the
> set to someone and stick to performance of sandhyAvandanam and gAyatrI,

 and why is this Sandhya vandhanam and Gayatri of such importance, that we
need not attach so much importance to the method itself? because, Gayatri
is ChandasAm matham - Mother Of the Vedas and it is extremely important to
do Gayatri Japa three times a day.
 Similarly, the benefits of any karma, kaamya or nishkaamya.

> if one absolutely cannot make the effort to learn. Claiming
> prAyaschittam is not going to help any, when no proper effort has been
> made in the first place. You can verify this with any of the pandits
> from the Kanchi Mutt when you get the chance.

 For what its worth, let me go ahead and say a few words about what I
thought I learnt from my experiences in the weeks I have spent at the
kanchi matam.
 Bhakti is the most important thing a mortal needs. For when there is
Bhakti for the Lord every thing else gets motivated by it. Your Bhakti may
be one of several Bhavams meaning: you may see your self as his mother
(example: Yashoda to Sri krishna), as His consort (Radha), as his friend
(Kuchela), as his enemy (kamsa, Ravana etc), as His servant (Hanuman,
Garuda), as His father-in-law (Thiru mangai Azhwar) etc etc.  There is no
qualification for Bhakti. This one point is burned into my heart. I
distinctly remember this question by HH: What are the qualifications for
Bhakti. I was stupid enough to answer: be a human. He explained to me
(through the story of Gajendra Moksham), why no qulifications are
 Starting from this, everything else flows. The one and only thing we need
to try to develop is Bhakti. It is not easy to have devotion to someone
who we do not see, do not touch, do not hear etc. We only believe He
exists. For a petty mortal like me He is only hearsay. But the underlying
faith, that He IS, that the path to Him is the path our Mother the Vedas
say, is all we have, and our duty is to build on it. Nothing else matters.
(This last statement, I believe a broad ranging statement, invites
disagreement. Please feel free.)


                      Vaidya N. Sundaram
 The place, time, objects and their knower etc., projected in a dream
during sleep are all mithyA (an illusion/false). So too, here. in the
waking state, the world that is seen is a projection by one's own
ignorance. Likewise, this body, the senses, the breath, the ego etc.,
are all unreal. Therefore, That thou art, the peaceful, defectless,
supreme, non-dual Brahman.  -- Adi Shankara in VivekacUdAmani.

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