[Advaita-l] Using silk for pUja

Praveen R. Bhat bhatpraveen at gmail.com
Sat Jun 21 00:10:31 CDT 2008

(Resending earlier mail as it bounced back thrice)

praNAm all.

Hari Om, Senani-ji

 I guess you follow the Aapastamba Sutra as many South Indians do.

 AFAIK, yes.

  What is recommended is skin, not silk. To this day, silk is called **
cheenaambaram ** in traditional circles clearly recollecting its foreign

 You may be aware that India used to produce silk since ages, finding its
use in the dharmashAstra stories too. That very traditional circle uses silk
and, for me, tells of no foreign origin tales.

 We in AP use silk for the daily sandhyavandanam in the searing heat of
summer as well, where cotton would have been more appropriate.

Well, you agree that silk is being used traditionally.

 Interestingly, for karmas with higher levels of madi, or cleanliness /
purity or whatever, like a Sraadha or a homam, we actually use cotton which
has been washed and dried without anybody, except other people in madi or
pure/clean state, touching it once it is dry.

OTOH, equally interestingly now, we consider silk as a higher maDi and use
it for shrAddha and homa; cotton is used during marriages; wet cotton
clothes are used during last rites, more so since multiple baths are
involved and drying multiple clothes in maDi becomes difficult.

 I think usage of silk is less to do with preserving body warmth than with
the fact that it looks grand.

 Do you really think that your ancestors and mine started using silk because
it "looks grand" for sandhyA? I'm unable to recollect where I read it (I'll
post up if I do find where it was) but I did read that the more the heat
maintaining capacity (warmth), better it is a maDi. To that effect, cotton
used once should be washed, silk may be used again unless worn while having
food (rice, etc) or has touched impurity... perhaps skin is recommended for
the same reason: higher warmth. In any case, I don't have any comments to
offer on wearing skin for sandhyA since I've not seen or heard anyone
wearing skin around our times! But thanks for the information anyways.

  ...These things change with time and should not be given undue importance.

 Yes, quite so. But as long as I can follow what my ancestors followed, I
should try and do it. eg. in cities there's hardly a choice of digging a
well, while in our villages, we don't use stored water as maDi, even though
untouched. So if I'm in a village house with a well, I'd use well water for
sandhyA. But I don't think if skin was available I'd use it instead of silk,
for the simple reason that I didn't see it being used by my elders.

I would like to see the reference where it says skin of only naturally dead
animals can be used.

 If I were brought up with Vedic learning, I'd surely try to give a
reference. Possibly then, I wouldn't have started this thread in the first
place. :) However, unfortunate as it is, I can only learn from observing
locally what the tradition is and asking them Qs. To clarify, that paramparA
includes the maThas we follow, kulaguru, kuladevata and other temple priests
and family elders. I'd heard of our maThAdipati saying that skin of only
naturally dead animals are to be used.

Regarding milk, cows are not the only mammals to give milk. Humans do, and
yes, there is always more milk than the baby needs; but using it for anybody
other than a baby ... well, I leave it to you decide if it is a good
husbandry practice.

Please! With that logic, monkeys have limbs as well as brains, so they
should be hired to write programs. I confess I'm using weird logic here. :)
Lets try something else... closer to your argument... because pancagavya is
used for shuddhi in rituals, it doesn't make even suggesting pancamanushya
anywhere close to appropriate! Anyway, I clarified that my earlier mail was
with regard to usage of items from perspective of veda kArya and if you
think that any milk other than cow's is recommended, then you're the better
judge of it. From what I've known, even buffalo's milk is nishedha.

And we did not even touch upon the harm caused to vegetables, plants and
trees which are living beings.

 I did just touch upon it when I said veg and fruits are offered before
consumption. Moreover, after having mentioned about how pUrva mimAmsa
recommends cutting grass, I hardly found it necessary to elaborate on veg,
plants and trees.

My point is simple; concern for silk worms etc. is impractical.

My point is equally simple. I didn't raise any concern for silk worms, but I
asked whether, if at all, shAstras justify or explain using silk. I myself
use silk for sandhyA. Since you clearly pointed out that it is skin and not
silk thats recommended, the question itself loses meaning.

 With respect to treatment of animals, ours is a robust tradition, not a
goody-goody one. Let us not make it up that it was otherwise.

 I wonder how I appeared as to projecting things as goody-goody; to clarify,
I'm not apologetic about anything traditional. Nonetheless, if praying for
sacrificial animal's swarga prApti or reciting mantrAs while cutting grass
makes it appear making it up goody-goody, so be it. :) Its just that
everything that we do has an explanation and I hoped to to find about silk.

To close, I'm withholding my further comments on content other than usage of
silk in this thread. Thanks for your response.

If any other members use silk for sandhyA and have any guidance to offer on
the original question, kindly do so. From my search online today, I found a
link at IITM on dharmashAstra (
http://acharya.iitm.ac.in/mirrors/vv/literature/dharmasastras/ds1c.html, see
25) that recommends silk, but not for brAhmaNa, only for other dvijAs.


--Praveen R. Bhat
/* Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known!
[Br.Up. 4.5.15] */

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