Questions… Enigma… Mysteries…
By Evelina Rioukina, UNECE
The Axis Mundi, the centre of the universe, the navel of the world, the world pillar, Kang Tisé or Kang Rinpoche (the ‘Precious Jewel of Snow’ in Tibetan), Meru (or Sumeru), Swastika Mountain, Mt. Astapada, Mt. Kangrinboge (the Chinese name) – all these names, real or legendary, belong to one of the holiest and most mysterious mountains in the world – Mount Kailas.
Both geography and mythology play roles in the sacred significance of Mount Kailas. This holy mountain rises to an altitude of 6714 meters. It cannot compete with peaks in the nearby Himalayan range, which includes Mount Everest, and its grandeur lies not in height but in its distinct shape – four sheer faces marking the cardinal points of the compass – and its solitary location, free of neighboring mountains that might dwarf or obscure it. Mt. Kailas is regarded as the earthly manifestation of the Hindus’ mythic Mount Meru, or Sumeru, the spiritual center of the universe, the axis mundi in Buddhist and Jain as well as Hindu cosmology. The area around this great mountain is the source of four life-giving rivers; the Indus, Brahmaputra, Surlej and Karnali, which is a major tributary of India’s sacred Ganges, begin here. To further enhance the symbolic mysticism of the mountain as a sacred place, two lakes are situated at the base of the mountain. The higher lake Manasarovar (one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world), is the sacred lake, and is round like the sun. The lower lake Rakhast Tal (one of the highest salt-water lakes) is the devil’s lake and has the shape of the crescent moon. The two lakes represent solar and lunar forces, good and negative energies respectively.
To Tibetan Buddhists, Kailas is the abode of the tantric meditational deity Demchog. Hindus see Kailas as the throne of the great god Shiva, one of their most significant deities. Jains revere Kailas as the site at which their first prophet received enlightenment. Buddhist, Hindu and Jain pilgrims from the world over go to this holy mountain to circumambulate. Climbing Mount Kailas is forbidden (the only person to have ever been atop the sacred mountain is Milarepa, a 11th century Tibetan Buddhist yogi).
Long before Buddhism took root in Tibet in the 7th century Kailas was venerated by the adherents of the Bön (or Bnpos or Bönpos), the indigenous, religion of the region who maintained that the mystic region around Mt. Kailas and the Nine-Story Swastika Mountain was the seat of all power. When viewed from the south face, a swastika can indeed be seen. According to Bön accounts, while the circumambulation is made (anticlockwise, whereas followers of the other religion walk in the clockwise direction) 18 powerful and enlightened teachers will appear in this eon including Tnpa Shenrab, the most powerful of them, the founder of the Bön religion. He is said to have been born in the mythical land of Olmo Lung Ring, whose location remains something of a mystery. The land is traditionally described as dominated by Mount Yungdrung Gu-tzeg (edifice of nine swastikas), which many identify as Mount Kailas.
Legends of a mythic land were spread throughout the centuries and became of interest to philosophers, adventurers, theologists and even… political leaders! It received many names: Shambhala, Shangri-La, etc., and many locations have been suggested: the Tibet plateau, the Gobi desert, the Altai, but the Mount Kailas range is most frequently named. The poem by Frank Scassellatii below best describes the curious mixture of past and present, mysticism and reality:
There Lies a World Hidden,
Mysterious, unknown, and forbidden.
Where dwell entities with technologies
beyond our comprehension,
And knowledge kept hidden from us, in this
Will the truth ever be revealed?
Earthly forces of power and greed forever
Forbidden knowledge for warfare to wield.
When humankind understands,
To use the knowledge acquired from these
strange lands.For the benefit of humankind,
Then entrance into their world we will find.
The interest has been universal. Tsar Nikolai Romanov had some connection with Tibet through the monk Badmaev, who was himself closely associated with a highly placed Tibetan, the lama Agvan Dordzhiyev, tutor and confidant of the 13th Dalai Lama. Dordzhiyev equated Russia with the coming Kingdom of Shambhala anticipated in the Kalachakra texts of Tibetan Buddhism. The lama opened the first Buddhist temple in Europe, in St. Petersburg, significantly dedicated to Kalachakra teaching. One of the Russian artists who worked on the St.Petersburg temple was Nicholas Roerich, who had been introduced by Dordzhiyev to the legend of Shambhala and to eastern thought. George Gurdjieff, another mystic who had some impact on Western thought, knew Prince Ukhtomsky, Badmaev, and Dordzhiyev. Gurdjieff was accused by the British of being a Russian spy in Central Asia, a pupil of the mysterious Tibetans. Even Marx had contacts with Tibetan lamas as did Lenin who met some of them in Switzerland.
What were these people interested in and what attracted them to Tibet? The beauty of the mountains or the mysticism? The desire to find the remains of lost civilizations or the desire to learn how to acquire extreme power so as to govern the world?
Not only contacts with lamas, but even expeditions were organised in this area. What, for example, brought about the odd juxtaposition of Tibetan lamas and German SS officers on the eve of World War II? The search for lost remnants of an imagined Aryan race hidden somewhere on the Tibetan plateau? Or some other reason? It is known that Nazi leaders such as Heinrich Himmler believed that Tibet might harbour the last of the original Aryan tribes, the legendary forefathers of what was considered the German race whose Aryan leaders were supposed to possess supernatural powers that the Nazis thought they could use to conquer the world. Ideas about an Aryan or master race began to appear in the popular media in the late nineteenth century. In the 1890s, E. B. Lytton, a Rosicrucian, wrote a best-selling novel around the idea of a cosmic energy (particularly strong in the female sex), which he called «Vril.» Later he wrote of a Vril society, consisting of a race of super-beings that would emerge from their underground hidingplaces to rule the world. The Vril Society claimed to have links to Tibetan masters, apparently drawing on the ideas of Madame Blavatsky, the theosophist, who supported the existence of super-beings in a mystic land which she described in such well-known works as the Secret Doctrine. She claimed to be in telepathic contact with spiritual masters in Tibet and confirmed that she was receiving this information from them.
Nikolai Roerich went to the region of Tibet where he spent several years. Depending on the source, the reasons for his mission vary, from purely botanic studies in the region of the Gobi desert on behalf of the US Government to political and spiritual. He may have been inspired by Kalachakra teaching and legends of Shambhala while working at the painting of St.Petersburg temple, described above. His painting “The Path to Kailas” can be seen in the New York museum dedicated to his work. He devoted many years to the search for this mystic land.
Many of these people were ready to believe in the existence of the super-natural in whatever form – higher intelligence, power, or energy. This interest remains strong to this day in many countries, to find this axis mundi, the most powerful place, the highest power, or the hidden intelligence in whatever form it exists, if indeed it does.
Nor should one ignore recent Russian studies of Tibet and the Kailas range in particular, the results of which, if true, could radically alter our thinking on the growth of civilizations. One of the ideas the Russians have put forward is that Mt. Kailas could be a vast, human-built pyramid, the centre of an entire complex of smaller pyramids, a hundred in total. This complex, moreover, might be the centre of a world–wide system connecting other monuments or sites where paranormal phenomena have been observed.
It is difficult to explain all the available information in a short article for UN Special. I have copied in the photo below the pyramidal complex as proposed by the Russians. The idea of the pyramid in this region is not new. It goes back to the timeless Sanskrit epic of the Ramayana. Since then, numerous travellers, especially in the beginning of the 20th century, have expressed the view that Mt.Kailas is too perfect to be a totally natural phenomenon, or at any rate give the appearance of human intervention. For example:
In shape it (Mount Kailas) resembles a vast cathedral… the sides of the mountain are perpendicular and fall sheer for hundreds of feet, the strata horizontal, the layers of stone varying slightly in colour, and the dividing lines showing up clear and distinct…… which give to the entire mountain the appearance of having been built by giant hands, of huge blocks of reddish stone. (G.C. Rawling, The Great Plateau, London, 1905).
However, it is only fair to add that the Russian claims to have discovered in the Mt.Kailas area the highest ever human-built pyramids were denied three years later by Chinese scientists in the official Chinese Press.
Of human construction or not, Mt. Kailas is one of the most mysterious, secret and at the same time one of the most holy and sacred mountains of Asia, if not of the world) the circumambulation of which has for many centuries or possibly many millennia remained a vital pilgrimage, symbolising the life’s stages of death, purification and rebirth. Buddhists and Jains refer to the circumambulation as khora, Hindus as parikrama. A single circumambulation equals one turn of the Wheel of Life and will wipe away the sins of one’s life, twelve circumambulations will purify one’s karma for all past and future lives, enlightenment is attained after 108. Even one khora presents an extremely difficult task since the mountain is difficult of access and dangerous.
Dangers or not, some of us may dream of discovering for ourselves what there is to be seen on this mountain. Pending this adventure, I decided to speak to some of the few people who have circumambulated the mountain and recorded their personal experiences, to ask for their records and to interview them. Their replies are the subject of one of the next issues of UNSpecial!
(With deep thanks to Mr. Wolf Scott, former Deputy Director of UNRISD,
for helping me to systematise and to structure very complicated material resulted from many months of research and studies of numerous sources and private archives).
To the surprise of every one, Paramacharya signaled to them, asking if they can bring Ariyakkudi over to meet Him. They agreed and left.
That afternoon by three o’clock, Ariyakkudi was at the camp. He was so excited and tense, as Paramacharya had asked to meet him in the midst of his ‘kAshta mounam’ (vow of rigorous silence) Is not Paramacharya known for His simplicity? So His accommodation at the camp was very simple. His room was on the garden side of a small house. Devotees had to have His darshan through a small window, after passing through dirt and bushes. May be that was His way of admonishing those of us who have grown used to the luxuries of life.
On being informed that Ariyakkudi had arrived, Paramacharya signaled to bring him to the rear window. He came, and paid obeisance by falling full stretch at His feet.
That was it. To every one’s joy, Paramacharya opened His mouth and started talking in a torrent.
“Heard of your receiving the Rashtrapathi award. You would have walked on a red carpet, and been honored in a gathering of eminent persons. But me, I have made you walk on stones and bush and made you sit in a dinghy room.
“Why I called you is, I long have had a desire to listen to ‘ShrI SubrahmanyAya namasthE’ rendered perfectly. On hearing you are around, the desire has re-surfaced. Perfect rendition means both the music and the lyrics (sangItham and sAhityam). Many people disfigure the words of Sanskrit and Telugu kirtanas to the extent that we wish they never sang.
“The music part (swarAs), the rhythm part and the ‘sAhitya chandas’ – what is called ‘chandam’ in Tamil – would be given for most songs.
The proper way to split and combine words would also be given. The musician has to take care to synchronize the music, rhythm and chandas and split and combine the wordscorrectly so as not to spoil the meaning. The compositions of good composers definitely allow this (padham pirichu pAdaradhu) but many musicians simply concentrate on the music and rhythm, and ignore the meaning, sometimes leading to ridiculous meanings! “Even in this song ‘ShrI SubrahmanyAya namasthE’, we have a line ‘guruguhAyAgnAna dwAnta savithrE’. This must be split as ‘guruguhAya agnAna dwAnta savithrE’ i.e. ‘the one who is the sun for the darkness of ignorance’. Some sing it as ‘guruguhAyA…….
gnana dwAnta savitrE’, ‘ one who is the sun for the darkness of knowledge’! “I do not know if you sing the kriti ‘SankarAchAryam’ (Sri Subbarama Sastri’s Sankarabharanam kriti), but Veena Dhanamma’s family, Semmangudi Seenu, MS sing this. There is a line ‘paramAdvaita sthApana leelam’ – means ‘one who so easily, like a game, founded the great Advaita philosophy’ – it is to be sung with stress on the ‘A’ of ‘Advaita’ (Paramacharya sings this line) to give the intended meaning. If we really cared, we can, even without proper training, sing with proper meaning. Those I mentioned above also sing properly.
But those who do not care, stretch the ‘paramAAAA’ and then sing ‘dwaita sthApana leelam’, converting the Advaita Acharya to Dwaita Acharya! (laughs heartily for a long time) “No doubt, in music, there is no Dvaita – Advaita difference. Only music is important. And music makes the mind of the singer into unison with the song – the protagonist of the song. That is why, ‘ShrI SubrahmanyAya namasthE’ is attached to you – a Vaishnavite – or you are attached to it! I have heard you sing that song. I do not have to say anything about your musical ability; and the sahitya part too you do correctly. Which is why I have called you here.
“In my dharbar there is only stones and bushes. There is no accompaniment, not even sruti. But please do sing that kriti for me, in spite of all these.” When Paramacharya stopped his torrent, Ariyakkudi was in tears. He prostrated once again, and said “there is no other prestige for me than to be asked by ‘periyavA’ to sing, and singing for periyavA. I have no words to express the magnanimity of PeriyavA, considering me as somebody and giving me this chance. PeriyavA’s grace has to fill in for the sruti and accompaniment and enable me to sing to the level I am expected to”, and readied himself to begin the song.
Paramacharya asked “the raga of this kriti is said to be Kambodhi, but the name given in books is Kambhoji, right?” When Ariyakkudi said yes, Paramacharya continued, “Many of us know Kambhojam is Cambodia (in S E Asia), and that Bharat culture had taken deep roots there. If we inferred that Kambhoji is a raga ‘imported’ from that place, researchers like Sambamurthy (the late Proof P Sambamurthy) disagree. Cambodians might have imported many things from us, but not we, far advanced in civilization, from them; definitely not in music, where we were much advanced whereas they had mostly folk music. Then why the name ‘Kambhoji’? “I have a thought here – there is another place called ‘Kambhojam along India’s northern border. Kalidasa, no ordinary poet and quite knowledgeable too, tells Yasha to go this way and that in his ‘mEgha SandEsam’ – good enough to plot a map! In his Raghuvamsam, describing Raghu’s invasions and victories, he has mentioned one ‘Kambhojam’, beyond the Indus and along the Himalayas. From this, we deduce that, within the extended India (akand Bharat), there was one Kambhojam near the Hindukush mountains. May be our Kambodhi raga was from this place? “Many ragas are named after places, right? Sourashtram, Navarasa kannada, even Kannada, Sindhu Bhairavi, Yamuna Kalyani, like this Kambodhi might have come from Kambhojam region.
“Researchers say ragas like Mohanam and Kambhji have been around in most civilizations from time immemorial. Later, may be the raga was given the name of the place that ‘polished’ it well.
“Kedaram is a place in the Himalayas – you know Kedarnath. Gowla – Gowda region – Bengal. We have ragas in both names, and even Kedaragowla. But all three ragas have been in South Indian music – how? May be the names came from musicans who ‘specialized’ in these ragas and came from those regions? People in general, musicians in particular, are referred to with their native places. For instance Ariyakkudi means you! From this, can we say that some these rags – Kedaram, Gowla, Kannada, Kambhoji etc. – were popularized by musicians from these regions? “Are you interested in research into ancient music?” Ariyakkudi replied “Not much”.
“But you have set Tiruppavai to tune! But unlike for Devaram songs, tunes have not been specified for Tiruppavai songs, and those whose who recited, did not use a tune. Since only Brahmins have been reciting Divyaprabhandham songs, they have recited only with a kind of up-down delivery (Ethal-Irakkal prAsam). You set the tune for Tiruppavai according to your manodharma (imagination)?” “To the best of my little ability” “But it has become the standard and accepted and sung by other vidwans as well! It seems our ancient ragas have been preserved in their original form (roopam) only in the Devaram songs. Just as the Vedas have been preserved to a note by the Vaidikas through generations, the Odhuvamurthis have preserved Devaram songs – not just the lyrics, but the tunes too. What was a service to devotion, has also been a service to music! The ragas Sankarabharanam, Neelambari, Bhairavi etc. have all been identified as different ‘pann’s. This list includes Sowrashtra, Kedaragowla, Kambodhi also. Kambodhi used to be called ‘ThakkEsi’ or something like that. Kambodhi is not a mela raga?” “No. Harikambhoji is the mela raga; Kambhoji is its janya raga” “But Kambodhi is more famous! Just like the son being more famous than the father. Some other janya ragas too are like this?” “Yes, Bhairavi is a janya raga, derived from Natabhairavi” “OK, you sing. I have been wasting time in useless chat preventing you from doing what you came for!” Ariyakkudi rendered the song “ShrI subrahmanyAya namasthE” – a rare musical feast. Even without sruti or accompaniments, it still was wholesome. Paramacharya listened to the song with full concentration, eyes closed. Then, “Only because you sang alone (no sruti/accompanists) the song came out with all its beauty. And the words were crystal clear. I say ‘thrupthOsmi’ (Totally satisfied). Please sing once more – you know why? I will give you the meaning line by line, you stop after every line. Not that you do not know; but let me have the pleasure of dissolving my mind in Sri Dikshitar’s lyrical beauty for some more time! More over, others here can also learn the meaning and beauty behind the creations of geniuses.” Ariyakkudi sang one more, this time line-by-line. Presented below is Paramacharya ‘s commentary, plus appropriate pieces from some of his other lectures.
‘shrI subrahmaNyAya namastE namastE’ Obeisance to Lord Subrahmanya – every one knows. Starts auspiciously with ShrI and has a double namasthE. If you say something more than once, you have said it infinite number of times (not just 100, as Rajnikant thinks! – ananth). We have seen ‘pOttri pOttri’ and ‘Jaya Jaya Sankara’, and BrahmasUtram’s every phrase ends with twice- repeated words.
‘namasthE namasthE’. ‘thE’ – to you; ‘nama:’ – obeisance. ‘nama:thE’ becomes ‘namasthE’. The whole kriti goes in the fourth person(?) (nAlam vEtrumai). Obeisances to you, SubrahmanyA, infinite number of obeisances.
Who is Subrahmanya? True, learned Brahmanya. We generally take ‘brahmA’ to mean the true, absolute form of the Lord (paramAtma svarUpam), but there is another meaning – Vedas. That is why, Upanayanam, the ceremony to begin Veda lessons to a child, is called ‘BrahmOpadEsam’; by learning Vedas, the child becomes ‘BrahmachAri’. Likewise ‘Brahmayagnam’. Brahmins are a set that recite the Vedas. Subrahmanya is the symbol of the Divine, the end point, the God of Vedas, and the special God of the Brahmins.
What is the special feature of Veda recitals? Worship of agni, fire.
And Subrahmanya is the God who is in ‘agni swarUp’. He was created by the six sparks of fire (nEtragni) from the (third) eye of Shiva.
Hence He is the Deva of Vedas, and the God of Brahmins, whose sole duty is to recite and teach Vedas.
Adisankara in his ‘Subrahmanya Bhujangam’ says ‘mahIdEva dEvam, mahAvEda bhAvam, mahAdEvabAlam’. ‘mahIdEva’ are Brahmins; ‘mahIdEva dEvam’ is God of Brahmins.
In Thirumurugattruppadai, one of the oldest Tamil scriptures, this point is underlined. Nakkeerar, the author, stating that each of the six faces of Shanmukha grants devotees’ wishes in one different way, says ‘oru mugam manthra vidhiyin marapuli vazhA anthanar vELviyOrkkummE’ And when describing Thiruveragam (Swamimalai), he says learned and pious Brahmins perform rituals with fire towards Subrahmanya.
Brahmins who participate in ‘yagna karmA’ are called ‘rithvik’. Of the sixteen types of rithviks, one is named ‘Subrahmanya’.
From all these, it is evident that Subrahmanya is the God of Vedas.
Muthuswami Dikshitar has much connection with Subrahmanya. He has been to, and sung in praise of, many kshetras and Gods, just as Adisankara has. But in his devotion (upAsanA), he has been known to be a ‘dEvi upAsakA’ – he even breathed his last singing ‘mIna lOchani pAcha espressoni’ on Meenakshi. But his birth, beginning of his composing career, were are all associated with Subrahmanya.
His very name, Muthuswami, is that of Muthukumaraswami, the deity at Vaidheeswaran koil. His father, Ramaswami Dikshitar – scholar, musician and Srividya devotee – was without an issue till he was forty. He visited Vaidheeswaran koil with his wife and fasted for 45 days (one mandalam). His wife then had a dream as if someone was tying coconut, fruits and other ‘mangalavastu’ on her womb. And soon she became pregnant. The couple understood that Subrahmanya had granted their wish and that the dream meant this. And a boy was born on ‘krithikai’ day in the month of Phalguni or Panguni. That boy was Muthuswami.
He grew up, had his musical training, Srividya Abhyasam (training in the worship of Devi) and gurukula vAsam at Kashi (Benares). His guru at Kashi, before dying, told Muthuswami, “Go back to the south. First visit Tiruttani. Subrahmanya will show you the way to your life’s purpose”.
So Muthuswami went to Tiruttani. He had his bath in the temple tank and was climbing the hillock, when an elderly Brahmin gentleman called him by name, and told him to open his mouth. When Muthuswami did so, he dropped a piece of sugar candy (karkandu) in his mouth and disappeared. Muthuswami understood who it was that came, and his life’s mission began that moment – his musical creativity had been woken up. On the spot, he sang eight kritis. (in eight different ‘vEttrumai’s) Also note that his ‘mudra’ is ‘guruguhA’, a name of Subrahmanya. Guha resides deep inside a cave – guhai; and guruguha resides in the deep cave of the human heart of Muthuswami Dikshitar.
Dikshitar’s life on earth ended on a Deepavali day. The sixth day from Deepavali is ‘skanda shashti’. Some people fast these six days, beginning on Deepavali day and ending it on the shashti day. So in his death too we see the Subrahmanya association.
Dikshitar went from place to place and sung in praise of the God there, be it Ganesha, Vishnu, Devi, Shiva. And in each kriti, there would be some internal evidence about the place where it was composed – the name of the God, some historical fact, or manthra rahasyam. Our ‘ShrI SubrahmanyAya namasthE’ has no such internal evidence – we do not know where it was composed. May be he unified the deities of all Subrahmanya temples in this one kriti, so sparkling is it.
So he has started with innumerable obeisances; then ‘manasija kOTi kOTi lAvaNyAya’ Like two ‘namasthE’s, two koti’s. koti-koti is koti (one crore) multiplied by crore. manasija koti koti – crore*crore manmadhA’s.
manasijan=manmadhan; he is born out of mind – manas. Love – kAmA – comes from the mind, right? There is a puranic story too – Manmadhan is the son of Mahavishnu. But very strangely, he was not born to Mahalakshmi out of Vishnu’s love, but from Vishnu’s mind directly – the moment Vishnu thought of him! And Vishnu’s other son, Brahma, was born directly too, from Vishnu’s navel (nAbhi). See, Vishnu has this funny habit of doing strange things always! Manmadhan is famous for his good looks. So ‘manasija kOti kOti lAvanyAya’ is some one who is crore*crore times as beautiful as Manmadha.
But is this not funny?! I mean, Subrahmanya being ‘manasija kOti kOti lAvanyAya’. Who is Subrahmanya? He is the son of Shiva, who reduced Manmadha to ashes with a fire of fury from His eye. And from that same nEtragni, is born Subrahmanya! But He was born to gnAna (wisdom), not kAma.
‘Kumar’ is a special name for Him. Just as in the South ‘pillai’ (son) means pillaiyar (Ganesha), Kumar in the North refers to the younger son, Subrahmanya. In the South also, we say ‘kumaran’ or ‘kumAraswAmy’. Nowadays, half of the boys are named ‘Kumar’! The term ‘Kumar’ is particularly applied to Subrahmanya. In Valmiki Ramayana, Vishwamitra tells the story of Subrahmanya to Rama and Lakshmana and calls it ‘KumAra Sambhavam’. And Kalidasa has named his own epic after this phrase used by the great sage Valmiki.
Another interpretation for the word ‘Kumar’. Manmadhan is also called ‘mAran’; and ‘kumAran’ some one who puts mAra to shame – is more beautiful than him. ‘kutsitha-mara:’ – ‘kumAra:’. So ‘kumAra’ by itself means ‘manasija kOti kOti lAvanyAya’! The Tamil people just love Him. They have given Him a beautiful name – ‘Murugan’ – Murugu=beauty.
After kAmA was burnt to ashes, Devi took over his role, donning his sugarcane bow and floral arrows – ‘kamEshwari’ – this led to the birth of Subrahmanya. And how else would be but ‘lavaNyA’? – Devi Herself is called ‘sundari – thripurasundari’.
‘dhIna sharaNyAya’ Is mere beauty enough? What we want is ‘aruL’ – grace. Subrahmanya is the refuge of we, the sufferers. ‘dhIna’ – those that are poor, humble, suffering, scared.
‘dhIna sharaNyAya – lAvaNyAya – SubrahmaNyAya’ – similar sounding – edhugai or mOnai or something in Tamil – it is edhugai only but edhugai on the ending of the words rather than on the beginning. ‘yAya’ – andhya prAsam – ‘to Him’ (fourth vEttrumai) It is usual to go back to the first line with a fast ‘manasija kOti kOti’, after beginning in slow tempo – chowkha kAlam or vilamba kAlam. Vilambham – a nice Sanskrit word. I prefer this word to ‘chowkam’. Slow tempo, giving scope to the musician to explore the raga’s various nuances, is a hallmark of Dikshitar’s kritis. And the majestic Sanskrit language helps too, creating the impression of a grand elephant procession.
But aren’t we all always in a hurry? By the mind and by the body? So we find such slow tempo boring after some time. And for this, Dikshitar provides relief with some fast movements at the end of most phrases. Madhyama kAlam comes as a relief to chowkha kAlam, as a piece of clove in a sweet-sweet laddu! In this kriti, both the pallavi and charanam have madhyama kAla endings. But in his most other kritis, we find madhya kAla phrases only at the end of anupallavi and charanam. Why? Subrahmanya is a vibrant young man (endrum iLaiyAi), so wants to go running right from the word ‘go’! ‘bhUSurAdhi samasthajana pUjithAbja sharaNAya’ – one whose lotus feet are worshipped by Brahmins and other people (add namasthE of the pallavi to this) ‘bhUsurAdhi’ – Brahmins and …others. ‘bhUsurA’ – Brahmins. ‘bhU’ is earth, surA are devAs. And Brahmins are the ‘earthly DevAs’ as they, by their chanting and rituals, bring the blessings of the Devas to earth.
We have already seen that Subrahmanya is the God of Brahmins (mahIdeEva is same as bhUsura). But is He the God of Brahmins only? Not so; He is the God of all people. Of his two wives, one is the daughter of Indra, the king of Devas, and the other, daughter of a tribal chieftain (suramagal and kuramagal). Some might say, He is a Tamil God (Dravidaswamy), and others that He is the God of Brahmins only – His name itself is testimony. But the truth is otherwise.
There is no doubt that He is the God of all people. And Dikshitar takes this line only. We should all unite in the name of God, not fight one another.
‘pUjithAbja sharaNAya’ – to the worshipped Lotus Feet. Abja is lotus; ‘Ab’ is water and that which grows in water is abjam. We also call it jalajam, ambujam, sarojam, neerajam (jala, ambu… are all other names for water). Also vanajam – vana is forest. But does lotus grow in forest? But vana has another meaning – water. ‘Kam’ is also water – kamjam is lotus (eg. kamjalOchanE, kamjadhalAya dAkshi).
vArijam, too, is lotus. OK, all I have tried to say is ‘abjam’ is lotus! ‘vASuki thakShakAdhi sarpa swarUpa dharanAya’ – one who takes the form of snakes like Vasuki and Thaksha.
Literally ‘sarpa’ means ‘kundalini’ – the Energy of Life. Snake has a wriggled, spiral-like form, so does our kundalini, in normal circumstances. But if we perform concentrated penance, it wakes up in full glory, and then merges with the Ultimate.
Subrahmanya’s weapon is the spear – ‘vEl’, also known as Shakti Ayudham. No other deity’s weapon is as much identified with that deity, as vEl is with Subrahmanya. And His connection with snakes is apparent in more instances – if we see a snake in our dreams, elders tell us to perform Subrahmanya pooja for preethi. And Shashti Pooja to Subrahmanyais also done some times as Nagarjuna Pooja, in particular for Puthrabhagyam. Subrahmanya was born at the request of Devas who wanted a powerful commander-in-chief; and we pray to Him for puthrabhagyam! In Andhra and Karnataka, they do not have Subrahmanya idols in temples; rather, He is worshipped in snake form. You know a place called Subrahmanya in Karnataka – there also it is this way. Telugus fondly say ‘subbarAyudu’ meaning Subrahmanya as well as snake.
Let us see if Adisankara has brought out this Subrahmanya-snake connection. (laughs) The title itself is ‘Bhujangam’! Snake does not have legs, and uses its whole body as hands – bhujam, and moves about in a wavy rhythm. The ‘chandas’ similar to a snake’s movement is called ‘bhujanga prayAdham’. Acharya has sung bhujangams on many Gods, but when we simply think of bhujangam, what comes to our mind immediately is ‘Subrahmanya Bhujangam’. On other Gods, He has also composed ashtakam, pancharatnam etc, but on Subrahmanya, only this Subrahmanya Bhujangam – may be to prove that Subrahmanya is Himself the bhujangam.
Dikshitar mentions the famous snakes Vasuki and Taksha. Shashti Pooja is performed by worshipping seven great snakes. Vasuki is the snake who adorns the role of Nagaraja in Nagalokam. And when the Sea of Milk (pArkadal) was churned with Manthragiri, this Vasuki snake was used to tie that hillock. Funny, isn’t it, a poisonous snake helping to extract nectar! Again, what is Subrahmanya’s vehicle (vAhanA)? peacock, dire enemy of the snakes! Goes to show that, in His presence, all enmity vanishes. So too, elephants are mortally scared of lions – a ‘simha swapna’ terrorizes an elephant. But we have an elephant sitting on a lion! Heramba, one of the many forms of Ganesha, has a lion as His vAhanA. Or take Vishnu – His bed is a snake (Adishesha) and his vAhanA, Garuda, enemy of snakes! We are told the story that a snake eats the moon during lunar eclipse, but we have a snake and a moon adorning Shiva’s head! Strange, again, are the Parvati-Shiva couple. Will a lion leave a bull go? But we have Shiva on the Rishaba (bull) and Devi on Simha (lion)! The philosophy behind all these is, all beings lose their tendency to hate (dwEsha bhAvam) at the Lord’s sannidhi.
OK, let us continue our ‘vAsuki takshakAdhi’ – some say Vasuki is the same as Adishesha; some disagree. Anyhow, Adishesha and Subrahmanya are definitely connected. Venkataramanaswamy at Tirupati has much connection with Subrahmanya. The hillock Tirupati-Tirumala is also called Seshagiri, Seshachalam, Seshasailam. ‘sarpa swarUpa dhara’ Subrahmanya is Himself is the Tirupati hill. Or take Ardhanarishwara at Tiruchengode. Subrahmanya is also worshipped here, as He made the (united) couple into a trio -Somaskanda. This Tiruchengode is also called Nagachalam and Nagagiri, meaning the same as Seshachalam.
‘vAsavAdhi sakala dEva vandhithAya’ Now he talks about the real ‘suras’, not earthly suras. ‘bhUsurAdhi’ was in the lower octave and ‘vAsavAdhi’ in the upper octave. The meaning is ‘One who is worshipped by Vasava and other Devas’. Vasava is Indra. Of the Devas, there is one class called Ashtavasus. They are Indra’s followers (parivAram), so Vasava is Indra. When he himself worships, all other Devas have to follow suit (yathA rAjA thathA prajA); moreover, when Surapadma drove off the Devas and ascended Indra’s throne, Subrahmanya was the one who saved them. So they have much reason to worship Subrahmanya. Not just worshipping – Indra gave off his daughter Devasena in marriage to Subrahmanya. So Deva-senapathi became Devasena-pathi! Dikshitar also points this out later in the kriti (dEvarAja jAmatrE) Reminds me – Devasena is said to be Indra’s daughter, and Valli, the daughter of Nambirajan, tribal king (suramagal, kuramagal) but in fact, both of them are Vishnu’s daughters but for some reasons grew up with Indra and Nambirajan.
Who is Vishnu? Devi’s brother, Subrahmanya’s uncle. So Subrahmanya has married his uncle’s daughters perfectly in accordance with custom. Arunagirinathar says as many times ‘marugOnE’ (nephew/son-in- law) as he says ‘murugOnE’. Even though Ganesha too is Vishnu’s nephew, ‘mAl marugOn’ – Vishnu’s nephew – denotes Subrahmanya only.
Another example of unity-in-diversity – Vishnu, whose son Manmadha died in the netragni, has given His daughters in marriage to Subrahmanya – born out of the same netragni.
Further, we will see that Saiva-Vaishnava difference also vanishes, and it would not be strange that this kriti is a Vaishnavite’s masterpiece. Is it not quite expected, as Subrahmanya is the son-in- law of Vishnu? Would you not love and respect your son-in-law? One step further – Devi Herself is Vishnu’s sister. Who gives off Meenakshi in marriage to Sundareshwara (thArai vArthu kodukkaradhu)? A world famous sculpture at Madurai tells us who…
First Dikshitar said samasthajana pUjithAya, then sakaladEva vandhithAya. Among Devas too, there are several sects – Vasus, Rudhras, Adithyas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras, etc.
And finally, ‘varENyAya’ – means THE BEST. This appears in Gayathri Mantra. To bring out the superlative nature, Dikshitar has used this word from Gayathri, which is but the essence of the Vedas. And ‘varENyAya’ continues the ‘andhya prAsam’ of SubrahmanyAya-lAvaNyAya-charaNyAya, and as it comes at the height of the anupallavi, he has used the word from the essence of the Vedas.
The beginnings of each line, too, have ‘edhugai prAsam’ – ‘shrI Su’, ‘bhUsu’, ‘vAsa’, ‘dhAsa’. This is the speciality of great composers – their rachana visesham (not ‘rasana’ – appreciation).
rachanA means lyrical beauty – the unified effect of sound and meaning, each falling into its place at ease. ‘Composed’, ‘composure’ itself means peace, ease. (In Tamil, we say quite beautifully, ‘sollamaidhi, porulamaidhi’). We can deduce a composer’s rasanA from his rachanA.
‘dAsajanAbhISta-prada-dakSatarAgra-gaNyAya’ Having certified His stature with a superlative, Dikshitar mounts more superlatives one after the other to bring out His kindness to devotees. ‘dhAsajana apIshta pradha’ – one who fulfills his devotees’ wishes. Dikshitar could have stopped here, but was not quite satisfied! After `pradha’, we have `dhaksha’, `thara’, `agra’ – a stream of superlatives.
‘apIshta pradha dhaksha’ is one who is very good at fulfilling his devotees’ wishes. Stop here? No. ‘dhaksha thara’ – the best among those who are good at fulfilling their devotees’ wishes. ‘thara’ – better in comparison. (in Tamil we say ‘tharamAnadhu’). Yes, there may be many such capable Gods (and their supporters may come fighting) so let us avoid controversy here. After all, God and music and kritis are but for unity and peace. So let Subrahmanya be the #1 among all such Gods, thought Dikshitar. So he says ‘agragaNyAya’ – another superlative! ‘agra’ – first place; ‘gaNyAya’ – held in or esteemed to be in.
‘thAraka simhamukha sUrapadmAsura samharthrE’ – one who vanquished Tharaka, Simhamukha and Soorapadma (add ‘namasthE’ here) Pallavi and anupallavi had all the words in the fourth person (nAlAm vEttrumai in Tamil). Now charanam has words ending in ‘ru’ – a weak, half ‘u’ (kutrialugaram in Tamil). ‘Samharthru – upadEsakarthru – savithru’ – in 4th person these do not become ‘yAya’ but take the ‘E’ sound – ‘harthrE – karthrE’.
Tharaka, Simhamukha and Soorapadma are brothers. Tharaka is elephant- faced, Simhamukha obviously lion-faced, and Soorapadma has an ugly rAkshasa face. In the South, Soorapadma is the king of Asuras, and the chief villain. We even celebrate Soorasamharam. But in the north, Tharaka takes this place. Kalidasa in his ‘Kumarasambhavam’ says that Subrahmanya was born for the purpose of vanquishing Tharakasura. And in Subrahmanya Bhujangam, Adisankara mentions all three. Dikshitar follows the ‘southern line’.
OK; Dikshitar has spoken of His beauty (kOti kOti manasija lAvaNyAya), kindness (dhInacharanyAya, apIshtavarapradhAkshagrahaNyAya) and valour; what next? What signifies Dikshitar’s kritis? What is his mudhra? ‘Guruguha’.
This is Subrahmanya’s greatest quality. He is the one who teaches us the path to the Ultimate. He even teaches His father, Shiva (‘guruvAi ararkkum upadEsam vaiththa’ – Arunagiri) – He is ‘thagappan swAmi – swAminAthaswAmi – ‘gnAnapandithaswAmi’.
‘thApa-thrya harana nipuna thathvOpadEsa karthrE’ Jeevatma – human soul – has three kinds of desires – thApathryam.
They are Aadhyatmikam, Aadhiboudhikam, Aaadhidhaivikam. And all three lead to suffering; the first to suffering within our soul. The second is brought about by other (human/animal) beings. The last, Aadhi dhaivikam, literally means God’s work, but here stands to mean our fate – vidhi. Subrahmanya teaches us how to win over them – he is an expert – nipunA – at such teaching.
‘vIranutha’ Wisdom and valour – we ignorantly that they are different. But the truly wise man – gnAni – can take any form, but still be a gnAni inside. Krishna tells Arjuna to take his bow and shoot (gAntIpathai edudA ambai thodudA) in the midst of Gita which is essentially a Gnanopadesham. Subrahmanya is a ‘gnAnavIra’ – the wise warrior, c-in- c of the devasena and worshipped by all brave and wise men.
Hence ‘vIranutha’. ‘nutha’ – one who is worshipped. One more interpretation – He has nine deputies whose names all start with ‘vIra’ – vIrabAhu, vIrakEsari, vIramahEndra etc. So also He is ‘vIranutha’.
‘guruguhAya’ After valour, again gnAna! Subrahmanya’s abodes are mostly hillocks or caves – guhai (‘kurinjikkadavul’ in Tamil). Philosophically, He is the Divine Truth residing deep in the cave that is the human heart.
And when He comes out and preaches, he is ‘guruguhA’. This is also Dikshitar’s mudhra, having flown spontaneously out of his heart into his words.
‘agnAna dwAntha savithrE’ ‘dwAntham’ – darkness; Savitha – Sun. Just as Sun drives out the darkness, He drives out the darkness of ignorance. The use of the word ‘savithA’ for Sun is significant here. Sun – Surya – has several other names – Aadithya, BhUsha, Bhaskara, Bhanu, Marthanda, Dinamani (more to be found in Aadhithya Hrdayam). Of these, the name savithA appears in Gayathri Manthra. Roughly translating, in Gayathri, we pray that the brilliant wisdom light of the Ultimate, likened to the glow of the Sun, should awaken our inner wisdom and make it glow, too. Speciality of the name is, Savitha does not talk of the destructive-of-darkness nature of the Sun, but of the creative nature. Savitha – literally one who creates. (prasavam – giving birth – same root here). Sun not only destroys darkness, dirt, insects etc, but also induces rain, growth of vegetation, our good health and even our mental growth. Similarly, Subrahmanya vanquishes darkness (of the mind), but also fills in this void space with wisdom. The use of the word Savitha has come out beautifully.
(ThirumurugAtruppadai starts with a similar simile of dawn) I think the whole point of this kriti is to show Subrahmanya to be the essence of Gayathri, which is itself the essence of Vedas. The kriti starts with Brahmanyaya; at the high point of the anupallavi we have ‘varENyAya’ and the high point of charanam has ‘savithru’. The kriti touches its peak at this point.
And then, ‘vijayavallI barthrE’ This is fun! the real fun with real gnAni is he can be anything outside; brave, beautiful, kind, anything. He is SUrasamhAramUrthi, the valiant victor at Tiruchendur; a sanyAsi at Palani; a Brahmachari boy at Swamimalai; Devasena’s and Valli’s husband at Tirupparankundram and Tiruttani. Vijayavalli is none but Valli.
(Devasena is Jayanthi). So He has Jaya and Vijaya as His consorts! Valli Kalyanam is a jolly good anecdote. But the philosophy there? He frees the mind, caught between IndriyAs (the tribal folk in the story) and merges it with Himself. Goes also to show how much of a ‘dhInacharanyA’ He is – He, the Son of Universe’s first couple, took on many different roles and what not, just to please the deep, innocent love of a tribal girl.
‘sakthyAyudha dhartrE’ – one who wears the powerful spear – ShaktivEl.
‘dhIrAya’ We generally take this to mean strength, fearlessness; of course that is correct. But another meaning is sharp intellect. And this ‘dhI’ sound is found in Gayathri too! Gayathri’s use of ‘dhI’ refers to our intellect, which, pray, be induced by the Ultimate Light (paramAthma thEjas). The root meaning of the word ‘gAyathri’ is ‘that which protects/elevates the one who sings it’. Sing? The recital of Vedas, in up-down fashion, is itself like a song. And Dikshitar probably made this kriti as a kind of musical Gayathri, and hence borrows many words and ideas from Gayathri Mantra.
Which is the first and basic swara of the saptaswara? Shadjam. The cooing of peacock is likened to Shadjam, and peacock reminds us of what? Him! (Arunagiri says ‘maragadha mayUra perumAl kAN’). If He is the Lord of Shadjam, the base note, is He not the Lord of music too? And must He not have a Sangeetha Gayathri on him? Which is why, He created Dikshitar, started him off with a sugar candy and got him to sing this kriti! ‘natha vidhAtrE’ Vidhatha is Brahma. natha here is the same as nutha in vIranutha – means one who is worshipped. We all know the story. Subrahmanya asked Brahma for the meaning of Pranava Mantra; Brahma could not give a satisfactory answer. And our young boy imprisoned Brahma and took over his duty of Creation. In some temples, we can see Subrahmanya donning the japamAla and kamandalu of Brahma (eg. Kanchi Kumarakkottam). Shiva came to Brahma’s rescue, “OK my son, Brahma does not know; you tell me the answer, if you know”. Pat came the reply, “I can not be talked to like this; if you want the answer, ask like a student does, not like a teacher”. Even great people take pleasure in losing to their offspring! Shiva went down to Subrahmanya and got ‘PranavOpadEsha’. A lesson to all of us – in pursuit of knowledge, there is no shame. Having now realized Subrahmanya’s greatness, Brahma worshipped Him and was released back to his job.
‘dEvaraja jAmathrE’ – son-in-law of Indra, we have already seen this.
‘bhUrAdhi bhuvana bhOktrE’ ‘bhUrAdhi’ – earth and other; bhuvana – worlds. It is customary to classify the infinite number of worlds into 14, of which seven are below, and further summarizing as ‘bhUr-bhuva-suvar’ ie lower, middle and upper worlds. Recognize these? Gayathri again! We add a ‘Om’ to it and recite as part of many our rituals. The idea is that the fruits of our rituals should reach all of the people in all of these worlds. ‘bOkthA’ means ruled by, enjoyed by. Are not the happenings- on in all these worlds at and for His pleasure? (leelAnubhavam) Finally, ‘bhOga mOksha pradhAtrE’ As seen, He is the one who rules over and enjoys all good things in this world, while giving us the illusion that we too enjoy various pleasures like wealth, position and fame. ‘dhAthA’ – one who gives. ‘pradhAthA’ – expert at giving. In the fourth person, it becomes ‘pradhAtrE’. As long as this illusion – drama – is on, it is fine for us to enjoy, and for Him to give. But if we delude ourselves into thinking that this drama is the real thing, we are fools. Once the drama is over, should we not go back to our real selves? This is the state when the mind (manas), the drama stage, dies and the Atman alone exists. He gives us this state too – as ‘agnAna dwAnta savithA’, ‘mOksha pradhAthA’.
If we seek moksha from Dhanalakshmi, or from Santhanalakshmi, we are not going to get it. And Dakshinamurthi would not give us wealth or offspring, either. Subrahmanya gives us both bhogam and moksham.
There is nothing more to say after this sentence, and the kriti ends.
Paramacharya further tells Ariyakkudi and the gathering at large, “I’m happy to see that you, coming from a good guru-sishya parampara, are preserving good music. You must also bring up good disciples and keep the tradition going. A Brahmin, having learnt Veda, has a compulsory duty to teach atleast one more person (athyApanam). This can apply to other sastras and arts too.
“One more point about musicians. You should sing the Telugu and Sanskrit kirtanas fully aware of their meaning. It is not fair to say that Tamil songs alone are enough. Great composers in this country have created hundreds of Telugu and Sanskrit songs of much musical and lyrical beauty. If we ignore them, the loss is ours. Do not defend by saying, ‘I do not understand them!’ – if only we desire, do we not spend time and energy on all sorts of useless things? If musicians dedicate themselves to pure music and proper rendition of words without losing the ‘osandha artha visEsham’, language can not be a barrier. Now that you are #1 in the music world, do your best towards this. May Subrahmanya’s Grace be with you in this endeavor.” Ariyakkudi was totally moved. He took leave saying,” This has been the best day in my life”.
And Paramacharya went back to his penance the next moment.
Abstracted from: Compositions of Muddusvami Dikshitar by Sangeetha Kalanidhi T. K. Govinda Rao, published in Chennai 1997 (No. 237).
Raga: kAmbhOji / Tala: tishra Ekam
P: shrI subrahmaNyAya namastE namastE manasija kOTi kOTi lAvaNyAya dIna sharaNyAya
A: bhUsurAdi samastajana pUjitAbja caraNAya vAsuki takSakAdi sarpa svarUpa dharaNAya vAsavAdi sakaladEva vanditAya varENyAya dAsajanAbhIStapradadakSatarAgragaNyAya
C: tAraka sihma mukha shUra padmAsura sam hartrE tApatraya haraNanipuNa tatvOpadEsha kartrE vIranuta guruguhAyAjHnAna dhvAnta savitrE vijayavallI bhartrE saktyAyudha dhartrE dhIrAya natavidhAtrE dEvarAja jAmAtrE bhUrAdibhuvanabhOktrE bhOgamOkSapradAtrE
SRI.M.D.RAMANATHAN – VOCAL ON 22 DEC 1982
SRI.M.S.GOPALAKRISHNAN – VIOLIN
SRI.PALAKKAD RAGHU – MRIDANGAM
May 6, 2013 NOTE: Shri Ramanathan is a guest writer on the blog which discusses many issues related to History of Hindu Astronomy and related disciplines: http:// jayasreesaranathan.blogspot. in/search/label/R.% 20Ramanathan
I am Ramanathan.R. I am also doing Veda Adhyayana of the Krishna Yajur Veda Taittriya Oukhya shaka, from multiple traditional teachers along with the angas and the Lakshana granthas like the Praatishakya etc. I also have a small knowledge of the Sama Veda especially the Prakriti Ganas and a very limited understanding of the Sama lakshana Grantha the Pushpa Sutra. Also have written a few articles on Mrs Jayashrees blog, the link is http://jayasreesaranathan. blogspot.in/search/label/R.% 20Ramanathan.
By profession I am a software Engineer. I will be rambling a bit before I get on to the core topic as stated in the heading. I want to digress a lot because many people are not aware of the context involved in the traditional way of studying the Vedas. As always, credit for any valuable information found in this article is due to the great Brahmavaadins who taught me right from my Upanayana till now. Any inaccuracies or wrong information is due to my deficient understanding and sheer incompetence.
I have good contacts with a lot of south Indian traditional Vedic scholars (of all 4 vedas) who have finished their Vedic studies upto either Krama, jata or Ghanantha along with the 6 Angas. They live a complete Vedic life along with the necessary aachara and rites in remote villages. I have been to many Shrauta rituals conducted by such great people. Also I have seen many real sanyasis from among them who have really practiced the principles advocated in the Upanishads, a few of them who really wander without staying in one place. It is not with a view to boast my qualifications or experiences that I am writing this big an introduction.
Unlike many professors who may have fancy Phd’s in Indology, from big institutes who are part of the mail group discussions, I have learnt the Vedas and the related subjects to a very small extent from people who live and practice it in daily life, what they learn. I consider that the real qualification, than studying for a Phd in Indology. I was introduced to this article and the mail group discussion by Madam. I was pained to see the type of discussions happening on these groups/forums. I thought that the period of colonial Indologists with vested interests has come to an end but I still see those people along with their shishyas alive and kicking. As a traditional adhyayi I feel a responsibility to reply to all these arguments as I feel it insults this great dharma followed for generations.
Of course I do not believe comparative philology to be an exact science. So I am not going to reply using all these “so called scientific” stuff. I have several reservations on the subject of philology and its several fallacies but that is the subject of probably another article. I am going to give a practical response, culled from the everyday lives of persons who have dedicated their entire lives for preservation of Vedas.
It is a pity that in all these discussions none of these foreign professors care to refer to these traditional scholars and get their views. They refer to people like Paul Deussen, Max Weber etc. as experts! As I said earlier there are people whom I know practicing, “Shravana Manana and Nidhidhyasana” in their daily life and Deussen is considered an expert in the Upanishads!!!. After all consider the pain these traditional scholars have undergone to preserve them. About no less than 50-70 years ago, to preserve tonal purity of the Vedas these people have travelled on foot alone for many miles through dangerous forests, crossing many wild rivers, risking bandit’s en-route etc. to meet scholars from neighboring villages to get the doubts they had, clarified. They painstakingly transmitted it to the next generation with utmost care. When they recognized any lapses on their part they did japa of 1000 Gayathris as expiation for the lapse. They perform the Agni Hotra without fail. I personally know such people now who are in their late 70s and 80s. This is just to emphasize the care and pain tradition has taken to ensure proper transmission. But yet the western scholars care not for these people. After all if these people did not exist, then I bet there would be no “Chairs of sanskrit/Indologoy” in their fancy universties. So literally it is because of these people, that foreign professors get their bread & butter, and I cannot but roll in laughter to think that these university professors pass value judgments on the traditional scholars and tell them what’s right and wrong in the Vedas
Mind that sufficient variations in texts have been accounted for, in terms of various shakas sutras etc. For example in the term Taittriya denotes around 86 shaakas of which the Maitrayini, Kapishtala, Katha, Ballaveya, Oukhya shaka etc. are a few examples. Also there is the classification of the shukla/Krishna Yajuses. It is the same with other Vedas too. Also within the Taittriya shaaka there are innumerable numbers of sutras like Bodhayana, Apastamba, HiranyaKeshin etc. So though the Veda is same the application in rituals can differ and is considered acceptable shishtaachara. There are innumerable other differences which are too large to be mentioned in this article. But the idea is that as long as there are traditional “Aarsheya(From Rishis)” source of authorities, even though a particular concept may not be explicitly mentioned in any of the Veda, it is considered as authoritative and is followed as part of Vaidika aachara.
Another point debated is the accents of Vedic texts. I recently came across some useless project called the “Restoration of Rig Veda”, where all the mantras are made to fit Panini’s rules. My teacher was approached for this and obviously he did not support it, as mentioned by Jayashree madam in one her mails. It must be understood that Panini tried to explain the existing system in the Vedas. He did not try to create a new system and “Correct” the misfits calling them corrupted text and has left it to the decisions of the Rig Vedins like Shakalya, Ashvalayana etc as to how to pronounce it. Such exceptions in each shakha are dealt with in the Praatishakya texts of each Veda. Panini never claims to have explained all the Vedas nor I bet he would desire so. Also I see some of these Indologists claim that some of the texts got their accents sometime in the 19th century and so on. What a laughable idea. As I said earlier these Vedic scholars dedicate their entire lives to preserve such texts. They study the angas to preserve each shaka as much as is humanly possible. They are loath to even slightest changes in accents and pronunciation. So it is absurd to say that some portions got their accents in the 19th century. This is vintage, colonial, Indological imperialism to the core. Especially the Aranyaka and the Upanishads are usually unaccented in cases like the Rig Veda. So can we consider the Aiteraya Brahmana and the Upanishad as not part of the Vedas? But Taittriya shaakaha has all the 3 swaras till the last. But the Taittriya Upanishad and the Aranyakas have accents that differ from those in the samhita but there is a book called the Aranyaka shiksha that explains these differences and neither the author nor the date is known. I bet no western Indologist knows it Also the Ishavasya Upanishad that is part of the Shukla Yajus samhita is fully accented. But whereas the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad in the Shatapath brahmana has only 2 accents (The Udatta and the Anudatta alone).So just because a particular text is unaccented/differently accented does not mean it is not recognized part of the Veda. As a practical example I wish to suggest that when the Samidheni Rigs(Riks chanted during addition of kindling sticks called samidh to the fire, during Shrauta sacrifices) are chanted they are chanted in Eka shruti(Monotonically) and not with the normal accents with which they are usually chanted on other occasions. So the western Indologists would do well to come to India and interact with these scholars before jumping to hasty conclusions. The problem is that for these Indologists the Vedas are just a matter of academic pursuit, whereas for these scholars it is a matter of heart and life itself and they take it very seriously. So believe me they have done a pretty good job of preserving the Vedas.
We will now deal with the core topic as mentioned in the heading. As told earlier I am not going to use philology or other gymnastics to support my arguments. I would be using practical examples in my arguments. As an example consider the Aupasana. It involves maintenance of a Grihya fire till death by the couple. It is the first basic rite enjoined upon a newly wedded couple. Nowhere in the entire Taittriya Samhita has the word “Aupasana” occurred, though the word “Paaka yajna” occurs. But it is only using the Aupasana fire to start with; the Shrauta ritual of “Agnyaadhana” is performed. In this ritual, the aupasana fire is divided into the 3 Shrauta fires (Gaarhapatya, Aahavaniya and the Anvaaharya fire). It is in these fires that all the other grand shrauta yajnas are done. So the source for the first basic shrauta ritual, the Agnyaadhana, is the “Aupasana” agni, which has never been mentioned in the Samhita. So it follows as per these western indologists that if a word does not occur in the Veda then the concept is either borrowed or non-existent. Thus the Shrauta rituals become invalid since the word “Aupasana” never occurred once in the samhita. What patent absurdity is this!!!. The entire life of a Grihasta and the associated dharma’s become invalid. In fact the performances of all the basic samskaras like Choula, Upanayana, shraddha, and even last rites become invalid!!!. Only the Grihya sutras (For example Apastamba grihya sutra) explain the performance of the Aupasana and other grihya rituals like the Aagrahayani sthalipaaka, the pinda pitru yajna, the Ashtaka shraddha etc, in detail. So the authority is mainly based on the grihya sutras. Would be ok to consider this as Non-Vaidika?.
Similarly even the sandhya rite (Event the word) is not mentioned in the Rig Veda Samhita even once. It is explained only in the Mahanarayana Upanishad, a text according to western Indologists is of dubious antiquity. The entire set of Sandhya mantras are taken from this text for all the Vedas. So since the word Sandhya did not occur in the RV and the Sama Veda, does it follow that the concept is foreign to them and they need not do it? So it can be seen that the basic rites required for a Vedic life do not find direct mention in the Vedas. The source for all these texts is the Kalpa or Dharma shastras written by Rishis and not the Vedic texts.
It follows that many astrology texts like the Brihat jataka, Parashara hora etc and many texts like the Ramayana and the Puranas are texts composed by Vedic Rishis. Why should people following them to practice astrology be not termed “Vedanga Jyothishyas”?. There are texts in the Vedas like “Dwadaasha Maasa Samvatsaraha”. It means “The year has 12 months”. So the concept of 12 units in one year is not alien to the vedas. It is just that the grouping of the nakshatras into a raashi gana is of dispute. If it has been coded by Vedic rishis like Parashara etc, it can be considered “Arsheya” and be followed as shishtaachara. The taittriya Upanishad says “When in doubt on dharma please consult brahmanas well versed in the Vedas, impartial and having a dharmic bent of mind, and take their word as the word of the Vedas”. So it is in this sense that the word “Raashi” need not be considered “Avaidik” and of Greek origin. Thus texts that deal with predictive astrology composed by Vedic rishis are also considered very much part of “Vedangal Jyothisha”, by the force of Shishtaachara alone.
I appeal to every person interested in this ancient Vedic culture of Bharatavarsha and its preservation to just trash the arguments of these Western Indologists. They do not live and follow the precepts contained in them. To them it is just bread and butter and they do not have an inkling of what they talk. Also they have many social/governmental pressures to conform to, awards/perks to win etc. Same is the case with our own Indologists who are devoted shishyas of Karl Marx, Witzel etc. So for any doubts you have on the Veda please consult, these traditional scholars if you can find them. Probably they cannot talk in English and do not know fanciful subjects like “Philology” and cannot browse the net. But they are our only living examples of this culture and it is proper to learn only from them. Otherwise all these wild speculations made by these “Indologists” are like speculations made by paleontologists after they find Dinosaur bones. And finally if we accept the views of these Indologists, then we are like people, though having a living species of animals to study, only confine ourselves to study the bones of these animals got from a dig and trying to understand them!!!.