[Advaita-l] On the Boundary of Dharma

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 17 21:34:10 CDT 2011

--- On Fri, 6/10/11, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:


> In addition to a stricture against same gotra marriages,
> there are also
> rules against sa-piNDa marriages. That is to say, the two
> individuals
> entering into a marriage should not share common ancestry
> within a
> few generations (three or five or seven generations,
> depending on
> which authority is followed). However, in south India, this
> is routinely
> ignored and cross-cousin marriages are frequent. Even
> Apastambha
> mentions this as an exception to the general rule against
> closeness
> in sapiNDa ancestors, so this is an age-old custom.

Both Baudhayana and Gautama reject this practice of intermarrige between cousins, while noting that it occurs in South India. Apastamba's own verses if read carefully may or may not support the practice. Kumarila argues against the custom, citing this as an example of how not all local customs can be considered Dharma.

This is an instance of what I would consider to be on the "Boundary" of Dharma - it can be said that the practice is "tolerated".

Here's another:

--- On Wed, 6/15/11, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar at hotmail.com> wrote:

> Changing the subject line - I think a few clarifications
> are in order here.


> > "But suryanamaskara etc. definitely fall under the
> purview of karma and 
> > therefore PM."
> > 
> > The sUrya namaskAra itself is karma, but the mantra
> bhAga under discussion is 
> > the Aruna pAtha which is by definition not associated
> with karma. Esp when there 
> > is no brAhmana that associates the pAtha with
> namaskAra/Asana/kriya. 
> The sUrya namaskAra is a smArta karmA, not Srauta karmA. As
> done nowadays,
> with recitation of the aruNa praSna, it may well be a
> recent regional innovation
> (relatively speaking). One would be hard pressed to find a
> brAhmaNa sentence
> ordaining or praising the vast majority of smArta karmA
> rituals. Much of this is
> just to be taken as part of SishTAcAra. 
> It should also be remembered that svAdhyAya-pravacana of
> the entire veda or
> portions of it, involving ritual recitation, is in itself a
> karmA. As such, recitation of
> a chapter from the taittirIya AraNyaka, whether by itself
> or in combination with a 
> sUrya namaskAra practice, would seem to fall comfortably
> under the general
> injunction to study, preserve and transmit the veda
> (svAdhyAya-pravacanAbhyAn
> na pramaditavyam). And there is also arthavAda in praise of
> this general karmA
> (svAdhyAya-pravacane eveti nAko maudgalyaH, taddhi tapas
> taddhi tapaH).

I respect the defense of traditional practices, but sometimes tradition itself has more than one voice on an issue. It may be useful for an individual to listen to all the inputs and then come to a conclusion for oneself.

Here's a continuation to the letter I posted a while ago [1]:

  "The [Surya] Namaskara is commonly performed after every Hanas.
  The division of Veda Vakyas into Hanas is purely for the
  sake of memorization and has nothing to do with usage.
  Sometimes a Hanas begins at half a Mantra, sometimes a Hanas
  ends at three-quarters of a Mantra!"

Thus there are two reasons for the non-acceptance among some scholars regarding the usage of the Aruna Prashna for Surya Namaskara as generally performed in South India:

1) It contains Vidhis (inter-mixed with the Mantras), which are not recited during an Anushthanam.
2) There are cases where a Mantra is broken after a fraction of its recitation, which is "strange" for an Anushthanam.

I discussed this with a Mimamsa scholar and here's how the dialog (roughly) went:

Me: "The Aruna Prashnam is usually recited while performing the Surya Namaskaram".
Scholar: "Yes, it is very commendable! One should follow it!"
Me: "There are Vidhis in the Prashnam..."

Immediately, the scholar broke into a smile! :-) He paused a bit and said, "The person who told you this must be a Maha-Pandita, since seldom do people know that a Vaidika Anushthanam does not involve the recitation of a Vidhi. You are an engineer, and there may be technicians working under you. Sometimes the technicians do things without listening to the engineer. So too have people begun using the Veda in ways that Vedic scholars don't always agree with. Since Vaidika Dharma is not practised in a strong manner nowadays, we have let people go ahead with their ways. If you are aware of which statements are Vidhis in the Aruna Prashnam, DO NOT RECITE THEM DURING THE ANUSHTHANAM."

Later, he explained a bit more about how the ONLY exception for the rule is the Brahma-Yajnam [2].

Also, the term "Lokachara" is perhaps a better fit for some practises than "Sishtachara".

> Regards,
> Vidyasankar


[1] http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/2005-April/014452.html
Subject: Letter No.3
(Answer # 3)
Date: Fri Apr 8 01:42:46 CDT 2005

[2] http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/2006-July/017157.html
Subject: Mantras and Brahmanas
Date: Sun Jul 30 21:23:10 CDT 2006

> * Although most texts called upanishat are in the
> brAhmaNa/AraNyaka texts, they
> are also found in the saMhitA portions. The most famous
> example is the ISAvAsya
> text, which is entirely within the Sukla yajurveda saMhitA.

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