The Famous Five – IV


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Article by : Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore

The Fearful Five

It is fear of God that prompts most of us to adhere to correct conduct. This is true not only of we mortals, but of even distinguished deities, we are told by the Taittireeya Upanishad, which reveals that Five exalted entities perform their duties out of fear of God. The Wind blows out of its fear of the Lord, the Sun rises and sets everyday like clockwork at the appointed time, Agni and Indra do their respective duties perfectly and Mrityu, the deity of death, promptly reclaims lives whose time on earth has run out”

“Bheeshaasmaat vaata: pavate, bheeshodeti Soorya:
Bheeshaasmaat Agnischa Indrascha, Mrityur dhaavati panchama iti”

The same mantra is found with slight variation in the Kathopanishad too,

“Bhayaat asya Agni: tapati, Bhayaat tapati Soorya:
Bhayaat Indrascha Vaayuscha, Mrityur dhaavati panchama:”

Shastras tell us that the King is verily the Lord Himself. If the Lord has five forms, the King too represents five deities in his functions, says Srimad Ramayanam. He is verily Agni when dealing with enemies, resembles Indra in his valour, Soma when he functions as the benefactor of his subjects, Yama when he deals out just punishment to the wrongdoers and Varuna, in being pleasant to everyone. Here is the beautiful slokam from Ramayana”

“Pancha roopaani Raajaana: dhaarayanti amitoujasa:
Agne: Indrasya Somasya Yamasya Varunasya cha
Oushnyam tathaa vikramam cha soumyam dandam prasannataam”

Enmity is normally caused by one of the following five factors, according to Sri Rama”

1. that which results from one’s sworn enemies
2. that which is the result of property disputes
3. that resulting from a dispute over women
4. that caused by a stinging insult, which is much more harmful than physical injury, and
5. that resulting from an act of omission or commission.

A slightly different version of what causes antagonism and hostility, is available in the Shanti Parva of Mahabharata, with a wise bird telling a King the five sources of enmity- disputes over women, disputes over property, intemperate speech, enmity subsisting from birth and that caused by an offensive act, however distant in time.

It is again Sri Rama who tells Bharata that sorrow generally arises from five sources:

1. Fire
2. Floods
3. Famine
4. Disease, and
5. Death.

Five more sources could also be the cause of distress to citizens:

1. Corrupt and inefficient officials
2. Thieves and robbers
3. Aliens
4. Those close to centres of political power, and
5. A miserly and unkind government.

Looking at the current scenario, how true are these words, though it is thousands of years since they were uttered!

In an argument with Ashtaavakra Maharshi, a vidvaan cites the following quintets as significant ones:

1. The Five Fires “Holy Fires” are five in number, viz.,

a) Gaarhapatyam
b) Aahavaneeyam
c) Dakshinaagni
d) Sabhyam and
e) Aavasatyam.

We are told that when Bhageeratha performed penance for bringing down the Ganga from the worlds above, he did so standing amidst the five fires-

“Panchaagni madhye cha tapastepe samvatsaram nripa:”

2. Pankti, one of the beautiful metres in Sanskrit poetry, has five parts

3. The Principal Yaagas are again Five “Agnihotram, Darsapoornamaasam, Chaaturnmaasyam, Pasubandham and Somam.

4. The power that prevails in the five elements has five functions-
a) Pramaanam
b) Viparyayam
c) Vikalpam
d) Nidraa and
e) Smriti.

Here is the relative Mahabharata slokam”

“Pancha Agnaya: pancha padaa Pankti:
Yagyaa: panchaivaapi atha pancha indriyaani
Drishtaa Vede pancha choodaascha pancha
Loke khyaatam Panchanadam cha punyam”

5. The Land of Five Sacred Rivers: The aforesaid slokam talks about five sacred rivers. We are reminded here of two such places in India, one in the north and the other in the south, which are named after the five rivers traversing the land. Punjab in the north-west of India derives its name from “Pancha Aapa:” or the land of the five waters. These rivers are known now as the Jhelum, Chenab, Beas, Sutlej and Ravi. Another beautiful name is Tiruvaaiyaaru near Tanjavur in south India, which is blessed by the Kaveri and four of its tributaries”Vadalaaru, Vennaaru, Vettaaru and Kudamurutti. Tiruvaiyyaru finds a mention in the commentary to Periya Tirumozhi””Kizhakke Iyyaattrile Yaadavaraayar vandirukka”

Bathing these days is a hurried affair, lasting at the most five minutes and aimed merely at physical cleanliness. However, it is a much more significant part of our ablutions and deserves greater attention to detail, if it is to cleanse our inner dirt too. Srimad Azhagiasingar”s Aahnika grantham tells us that an effective Snaanam consists of five steps:

1. Sankalpam
2. Sookta Patanam”recitation of Varuna Sooktam
3. Maarjanam
4. Aghamarshanam”recitation of the Aghamarshana Sooktam, and
5. Devata tarpanam

“Sankalpam Sookta patanam maarjanam cha Aghamarshanam
Devataa tarpanam chaiva snaanam panchaangam uchyate”

Shall we see some more quintets connected with good conduct, as prescribed by the Scripture”

When you sit down to a meal, five of your body parts should be wet, says the Mahabharata”two hands, two feet and the mouth. The premium placed by Shastras on basic personal hygiene is evident in most of our scriptural prescriptions, which, alas, we ignore too often to our own peril.

“Panchaardhro bhojanam kuryaat praangmukho mounam aasthtita:
Na nindet anna bhakshyaamscha svaadu asvaadu cha bhakshayet”

This piece of wisdom from the Epic tells us to eat in silence, facing the east and never to comment adversely about the food on your plate, whether it is tasty or otherwise. (My son and daughter, who were looking over my shoulder as I was typing this article, have mysteriously vanished, fearing another lecture on food habits.)

Sri Bheeshma tells Yudhishttira that five “Doshas” plague all men

1. Kaamam or excessive attachment
2. Krodham or anger
3. Bhayam or fear
4. Nidraa or sleepiness and
5. Svaasa: or breath

And how do we overcome these “Doshas”?

1. Anger is to be conquered by cultivating tolerance and forgiveness
2. Attachment can be overcome by performing duties without an eye on the fruit thereof
3. Cultivating good habits and personal hygiene would help us dispel sleepiness
4. Perception based on logic and reason would enable us to conquer fear
5. Lightening our intake and overcoming the tendency to eat and drink anything anywhere, would help us restore the rhythm to the life breath.

Five Sources of Himsa

While we may consciously refrain from hurting other creatures, we may be the inadvertent and unwitting source of pain and death for several lowly creatures like insects, flies, etc. Shastras have identified Five Himsa Stthanams, which we use in our everyday life, which could cause suffering and death
1. Khandinee refers to domestic pounding instruments like the “Ulakkai”
2. Peshinee”consists of grindstones, etc.
3. The Stove is another identified source of death for lowly creatures.
4. Containers used for carrying and storing water, and
5. Cleaning aids like the broomstick, vacuum cleaner, etc.

It is to rid oneself from the unanticipated sin accruing from the aforesaid five items that Shastras prescribe the performance of Vaisvadevam, Pancha Maha Yagyaas, etc.

All of us know that speaking untruth is to be avoided like the plague. It has been dinned into us that under no circumstance should we speak a lie. However, the Mahabharata enumerates five scenarios in which untruths are permissible and would not constitute a sin, Untruths told at the time of marriage (we all remember the Tamizh saying, ‘Aayiram poi solli oru kalyaanam seyyalaam’), telling an untruth for protecting one’s Guru, uttering a lie for saving one’s life, tampering with the truth while speaking to women.

In case you think I am making this up, (especially the last item) here is the Mahabharata slokam”

“Na narma yuktam vachanam hinasti
Na streeshu na vivaaha kale
Na Gurvartthe na aatmano jeevitaartthe
Pancha anrutaani aahu: apaatakaani”

The same Epic lists the five holiest of things”

1. Yagyam
2. Daanam
3. Dayaa or mercy
4. Vedas
5. Satyam

“Yagyo Daanam Dayaa Vedaa: Satyam cha Prithveepate!
Pancha etaani pavitraani shashttam sucharitam tapa:”

The Cow is considered holy. Five products from the Cow, cumulatively known as Pancha Gavyam, are considered to be purifying agents, capable of cleansing the physique”

1. Milk
2. Curds
3. Ghee or Clarified Butter
4. and 5 Cow’s excreta

For those who are engaged in Yogam, the following five qualities are indispensable, without which their efforts would be in vain

1. Akrodham or an equable temperament, not prone to anger
2. Guru Susrooshaa or serving one’s Guru with devotion and dedication
3. Soucham: Cleanliness of the mind and body
4. Aahaara laaghavam: partaking of light meals, giving up food which excites or incites, eating merely for keeping body and soul together
5. Constant learning of the scripture from one’s Guru, without ever thinking that one has mastered everything

“Akrodho Guru sushrooshaa soucham aahaara laaghavam
Nitya svaadhyaaya iti ete niyamaa: pancha keertitaa:

says the Yoga Rahasyam.

And the same work prescribes the following five virtues for Sanyaasis’

“Astheyam Brahmacharyancha tyaaga: alobha: tathaiva cha
Vrataani pancha bhikshoonaam Ahimsa paramaani vai”

1. Refraining from taking or even coveting another’s belongings
2. Strict observance of Brahmacharyam, with thoughts focused solely on the Ultimate
3. Complete renunciation of attachment to worldly objects
4. Avoiding causing any type of harm to anyone, by word, thought or deed, which is what Ahimsa is all about
5. Practicing generosity in imparting knowledge, especially knowledge that leads to liberation.

For success in this world and in the meritorious worlds above, the worship of five people is prescribed by the Mahabharata–“One’s Mother, Father, Acharya, Agni and the Almighty –”
“Pitaa Maataa tathaiva Agni: Guru: Aatmaa cha panchama:
Yasya ete poojitaa: Paartha! Tasya lokou ubhou jitou”

Five Types of Adharmam

Having seen the elements of good conduct, it is essential for us to find out what constitutes Adharmam too. The seventh Skandham of the Bhaagavata Puraanam guides us as to the five types of Adharma which are to be avoided at all cost”

“Vidharma: Para dharmascha Aabhaasa Upamaa Cchala:
Adharma shaakhaa: pancha imaa dharmaggyo adharmavat varjayet”

These five items refer to conduct which appears to be righteous, but is not really so according to scriptural prescriptions

1. Acts done under the impression that they are righteous, but which do not conform to codes of conduct prescribed for oneself, are known as Vidharmam.

2. Following rules of conduct prescribed for others is Paradharmam. For instance, Arjuna wished to abandon the battlefield, resulting in non-performance of Svadharmam and espousing Paradharmam. Abandoning one”s duty and espousing that prescribed for others is roundly condemned by Sri Krishna in the Gita””Svardharme nidhanam shreya: Paradharmo bhayaavaha:”

3. Performing acts which do not have the specific sanction of scriptures (like Chaidya vandanam) is known as Upadharmam or Upamaa.

4. Acts done outside the ambit of the code of conduct prescribed for one”s Ashrama are known as Aabhaasam. Thus, a Brahmachari consorting with women, a householder wearing ochre robes meant solely for Sanyaasis and a Sanyaasi performing Agni kaaryam, are guilty of Aabhaasam.

5. Interpreting the Vedas in a way contrary to the accepted and traditional manner and bending scriptural prescriptions to suit one”s own convenience, are known as Cchalam.

Five Residences of Kali Purusha

A beautiful narrative is found in the Bhaagavata Puraanam, where Pareekshit Maharaja defeats the Kali Purusha (the personification of everything bad and wicked) and banishes the latter from his empire. Since the entire earth belongs to Pareekshit, the Kali Purusha seeks some place to reside. Pareekshit tells Kali that he could live in peace at places where sins like prostitution, gambling, drinking and destruction of life for pleasure are committed. Not satisfied with these four residences offered to him, Kali Purusha seeks from Pareekshit a single source of sin, which cumulates all the four mentioned above. The King said, “You can reside in Gold”. By doing so, Pareekshit gave to Kali the right of residence at places where five sources of sin are practiced “Untruth, Prostitution, Violence, Hatred and Pride”.

And now for Romance!

Shastras tell us that Manmatha (the Indian equivalent of Cupid, the God of Love) is also known as Pancha Baana:, because he shoots five arrows at lovers, to sharpen their romantic feelings. Appropriately, these arrows are not made of iron or other metal, but of soft and supple flowers”

1. Aravindam
2. Ashokam
3. Chootam
4. navamikaa
5. Neelotpalam

Five Funny Practices

Acording to Bodhaayana, there are five peculiar practices prevailing in the South of India and five more in the North, which are contrary to the scripture: If we take the South first, these are
1. Eating in the company of uninitiated persons (those yet to undergo Upanayanam)
2. Eating in the company of one’s wife
3. Eating stale food
4. Marrying the daughter of a paternal aunt
5. Marrying the daughter of a maternal uncle

As far as North India is concerned, Bodhaayana finds the following objectionable mores:
1. Dealing in wool
2. Drinking Rum
3. Selling animals which have teeth in the upper and lower jaws
4. Trading in arms and
5. Going to the sea for their livelihood

The trees in Deva lokam are five in number

1. Mandaaram
2. Paarijaatam
3. Santaanam
4. Kalpavriksham and
5. Hari chandanam

Varuna, the deity of the waters, has five names

1. Prachetas
2. Varuna:
3. Pasee (because he wields a rope)
4. Yaadasaam Pati:
5. Appati: (master of waters)

Similarly, Planet Mars or Chevaai has five names

1. Angaarakan
2. Kujan
3. Bhouman
4. Lohitaangan
5. Maheesutan

Another planet, Raahu, too goes by five names

1. Svarbhaanu
2. Raahu
3. Saihikeya:
4. Vidhuntuda:
5. Tamastu

Srimate Sri LakshmiNrisimha divya paduka sevaka SrivanSatakopa Sri Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikaya nama:
dasan, sadagopan

To be continued…

Article by : Sadagopan Iyengar Swami, Coimbatore

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  1. the five glorious dictums covering many subjects are to be emulated wherever applicable and it gives pleasure to read the article right through and thank u for the useful information SRI V S Swamin

    dasan Govindan

  2. This is a wonderful and educating compilation from our Scriptures! Thank you so much for your uplifting service. May I request that if possible, include the citation of the sloakas (sarga,kaanda in Ramayana). Thanks and keep it Up!


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