Visishtadvaita for You and Me (Part – 2)

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Meticulous performance of Nitya Karmas indispensable.

We discussed that the nitya karma-s we are expected to perform, help us guard ourselves from the world around us and lead us to the path of God.

We likened them to the gear a cricketer wears to protect himself while playing. But how do they manage to do this? To us, they seem as if they are a set of mechanical actions that (quite often) even the person teaching us, does not quite understand. To answer this question, we first need to understand the structure and content of any vedic rite (vaidika karma).

A vaidika karma is one that uses the veda-s — i.e. the mantra-s and the procedure prescribed by the veda-s. The mantra-s in the veda-s have two important components — the sound of words (shabda) and the intonation (svara) . It is the combination of the right words (shabda-s) and the right svara (the way in which the mantra is chanted) that create the desired effect.

In fact, the veda-s are nothing but sound waves present all around us. They were intercepted by the rishi-s thousands of years ago and passed on to us. No one wrote/authored the veda-s (which is why they are called apaurusheya (not composed by any human being). Very similar to tuning one’s radio to a particular frequency, the rishi-s intercepted the veda-s and passed them on, by word of mouth. Why then are we not able to intercept the veda-s as they did? As you might have guessed, as time passed by, we lost the power to tune in to the frequency at which the veda-s are available. This is why the magnitude of the veda-s, that mankind has had access to, has diminished over time. Needless to say, the veda-s are available at that “frequency”, even today. Being the sound-waves that they are, to create the desired effect, the svara is as important as the shadba.

With time, scientific research is increasingly proving that the mantras in the veda-s are extremely potent tools. The karma-s that we have been ordained to do, have a great deal of these mantra-s and are therefore capable of pulling us to the right path.

Let us take a real-life example. The gas-leak at the UNION CARBIDE plant at BHOPAL is hard to forget. Hundreds of people died and thousands were incapacitated. There was almost no one the gas- leak spared. However, there were two families in the vicinity (within a mile’s radius) of the plant, which escaped unscathed. Both these families regularly performed what is known as the agnihotra, a daily ritual bhramin-s have been ordained to do for the good of the world around them. There were no casualties in these families despite being present in the area worst affected by the gas leakage (English Daily – “The Hindu” of 4th May 1985; this was published in detail in news item under the heading ‘Vedic Way to Beat Pollution’.). Subsequent studies have shown that agnihotra isan assured way of tackling radiation. It is said that many firms, which have to deal with radiation on a continued basis, have adopted the regular performance of agnihotra. The Internet abounds with sites that explain in detail, the benefits ofperfonning agnihotra.

This example makes it amply clear that the rituals we have been ordained to perform are not without meaning. Why then have we not been told these things from a young age? Why have our forefathers not explained the meaning behind what we have been asked to do?

(to be continued)

MUKUNDAN DEVARAJAN

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