ParamAchArya on namaskaram Vaidya_Sundaram at I2.COM
Wed Sep 12 20:06:04 CDT 2001

 I found the following very interesting and believe it would interest
members as well - this is one paragraphs from a speech by HH Shri
Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swami; the article may be found on the website; look for a link to namo namah.
 The achArya is talking about namaskaram being performed and that the true
"owner" of the namaskaram is NarayaNa, as He says "sarva deva namaskarah
kesavam pratigaccati" - all namaskarams reach Kesava (NarayaNa). He also
says his deep regret is not being able to perform namaskaram to others.
(begin quote)
Of course, there is no bar in doing namaskara to deities and purvacharyas.
But even here, according to the sastras governing us, we are not permitted
to lower our body to the ground and to perform namaskara, barring one or
two exceptions. We are to do namaskara with our "dandam" (staff),
swiveling it and touching the ground with it in a particular way, and it
is called "Danda Vandanam". The namaskara that you do is also called
"Dandakara namaskaram". The meaning there is different. Danda there also
means staff. But, there it metaphorically refers to the body. If the staff
is held straight, it stands erect. We also refer to people who are not
humble by saying "erect or unbending like a staff". The same staff falls
flat to the ground if the grip is taken off. The mind of the Jiva
generally "stands erect" like the staff. It is because of the hold of ego
(Ahambava). If it is released from the hold of ego, it becomes humble. In
such humble state, it experiences the highest sukha. Lowering the body in
performing na
maskara symbolises the release of the ego-hold on the mind. That is why it
is called "Danda Namaskaram". If the namaskaram is done without
understanding this central idea, that namaskaram is itself "Dandam" i.e.,
in vain (Dandam in Tamil idiomatically means useless).

The staff that is prescribed for us and which we carry is itself meant for
the control of the mind. It is a controlling, subjucating weapon. The
names Dandapani, Dandayudhapani are familiar to you. The word "Dandanai"
(in Tamil) for punishment came from Dandam. Since the important duty of
the State is to prevent people from taking to disorderly ways and to check
enemies (of the state and people) from rearing their head, statecraft is
itself called Danda-niti. In that way, the Danda is prescribed for us as a
symbol for keeping our minds under strict control. It is not merely a
symbol. When it is charged with mantra by our Guru and bestowed on us, the
Danda gets the power to be a help in the control of mind. The inventions
of science have some spectacular powers in the outer world. In the same
way, the mantras have miraculous powers in the inner worlds. Can you not
touch an electric wire with a stick without receiving a shock? Are not
radio waves "caught" by the aerial? Does not a lightning protector rod
electricity and save from thunder? This is also like that. In our case,
the Dandam is a symbol for the mind and its shield; the mind having been
entrusted to the Danda. This way of doing namaskara can still not compare
with the other way of doing it by lowering the body and lying prostrate on
the ground. The psychological feeling of humility one experiences in
lowering the body to the ground and the delight of just remaining like
that cannot be matched.

There is another point. That is what I wanted to mainly place before you.
More than the namaskara performed to the deity, more than the namaskara
performed to the saints and sages of ancient past, it is only when
namaskara is performed by prostrating before a living saint, a saint who
is moving about right before our eyes, that the "vinaya bhava" (feeling of
deep humility) is even more intensely experienced.
(end quote)

I am especially struch by His greatness and humility that He Himself wants
to perform namaskarams to others; as aspirants I think we should all learn
the art of making our ahamkara let go of its hold on our minds and
prostrate before Saints like Him.
I would encourage all member to read the whole article, spread over four
pages on the web site mentioned.
bhava shankara desikame sharaNam
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