The Path of Dharma and Health
The ancient sages have proclaimed that our life is a pilgrimage towards liberation (Moksha). They have prescribed two paths to achieve this: (1) Jnanamarga (the path of contemplation) and (2) Karmamarga (the path of worshipful action). Jnanamarga is more suited to a person who has renounced this world and all worldly attachments. For the ordinary householder Karmamarga is more appropriate.
In the Karmamarga four Purusharthas (human values) have been specified, viz; Dharma (ethical value) artha (wealth or possession) kama (instinctual desire) and moksha (liberation). Dharma is the bedrock of Indian philosophical thought.
Indian philosophy teaches us that Dharma is the path, which when followed spiritualy, takes us towards Moksha.
Artha and kama are introduced as the spectacles (sights) on either side of the path of Dharma. Artha and kama should be enjoyed only by using Dharmic principles and in no way affecting Dharma. One who eschews the path of Dharma and follows either artha or kama, is likely to end up with loss of health and honour. At times, it may even lead to unexpected death.
Moksha or liberation from this world is not death. ‘You are Truth, Knoledge, Bliss’ has been said in Daiva-dasakam, which is a personification of the Supreme Being, who is the embodiment of Awareness. This has been said also in the Atmopadesa-satakam stanza 4.
(Knowledge, the object known, and the knowledge of the knower, together make one primal glory. Within the radiance of that great omnipresent Awareness, one should merge and become that alone.)
Even after attainment of Jnana (knowledge of the Supreme) some continue to live in this world. Great souls like Guru come under this group. This state is called Jeevanmuktha (liberated while living). A Jeevanmuktha can continue to live as a householder or as a recluse. Sages like Vasista and Agasthya are such holy men who have lived as householders after attaining Jnana.
Of the four human values, artha and kama relate to worldly goals in life, and the other two to spiritual values or goals. When the ancient sages advised that worldly pursuits for possessions and to satisfy desires, should be done within the ambit of Dharma, they had synergized both the worldly and spiritual values in life. The new generation which apes the western culture does not understand the significance of this. That is the sad state of affairs today.
Man must be able to discriminate between right and wrong. We learn from the Dharmasastras (religious law books written about the codes of conduct. eg: Sreenarayana-dharmam) to enable us to do this. In other words, we must do what is expected of us as duties, and avoid such deeds which are prohibited by religious codes. This also applies to what we see, hear and speak, ie. discriminate between right and wrong. When it comes to food, we should consume only those items which are permitted (sattvic food) and keep away from bad or forbidden foods.
The Gurudeva has clarified in Atmopadesa-satakam stanzas 24 and 25 when an action gets considered as good or bad, from the dharmic angle.
‘What each performs for the happiness of the self, should be conducive to the happiness of others’.
That means, it should be for the benefit or welfare of the consumer. For example, a teacher tutors his students. Many of them study and pass with flying colours. Some of them may even become high ranking officers far above the level of the teacher. Here, what a person (a teacher) performs for his happy living, provides comfortable living to others. Such an action is right, and it is Dharma.
In stanza 25 Guru says:
‘Remember an action good for one person and brings misery to another is opposed to the Self’.
When a person makes and sell hallucinogenic drugs, he makes (easy) money. But the person who consumes such products ends up in misery, ie. the consumer is destroyed by this action. Such a profession or deed is adharma (transgresses the divine law). ‘Atma-virodhi’ means that which is an enemy of humanity or that which leads to utter disaster of the soul. This is also true of manufacturers of illicit liquor, poppy cultivation, drug peddlers. After this Guru continues by saying:
‘Those who give great suffering to another will fall in the burning sea of hell and perish’.
What a man sows, he reaps. One who sows sorrow (misery) reaps sorrow. One who sows hatred reaps the same. One who sows joy reaps joy. This is the immutable Law of Karma. This cannot be violated.
In this context, the followers of Guru have to understand one crucial point. If we sow hatred, we reap hatred. If we wish to get respect we can obtain it only if we show respect to others. The sooner this fact is recognized by those who wage wars in the name of castes, the better it is for their good.
Even the incarnations of God have been subjected to the law of Karma. If we read the Puranas, this can be verified. As the Bhaktakavi Poomthanam sang: ‘It is certain that not even Brahma (the creator) can break away from the shackles of Karma’ (Jnanapana). The Dharmasastras have proclaimed:- Don’t sow sins and reap sins; don’t sow violence and beget violence; but sow Dharma (righteous actions) and reap the same.
How one should observe the basic (general) rules of conduct has been introduced by Guru in two parts: Dharma-panchakam (the five tenets of Dharma) and Sudhi-panchakam (the five tenets of purity), as part of Sreenarayana-dharma. The five codes (creeds) of Dharma are: ahimsa (non-violence), satya (truth), astheya (non-stealing), avyabhichara (un-adultery), and madyavarjana (abstemiousness).
Ahimsa refers to non-injury to all creatures, through thoughts, speech or deed. Even killing without actual taking away life is a form of slaughter. Those who indulge in killing will ultimately get killed themselves (One who lives by the sword, shall die by the sword). This is the law of Karma. Therefore if you value your life, avoid killing. That is why Guru has recommended Ahimsa-dharmam (the code of non-violence to others). There is no logic in saying ‘I only eat (what is killed by others) but don’t kill’. It is the consumer who motivates (prompts) the killer in his action (consumption of meat promotes and sustains slaughterhouses). Guru has clarified this in Jeeva-karunya-panchakam.
‘The non-killing vow is great indeed,
And, greater still, not-eating to observe’.
Even subjecting one’s mind and body to discomfort and abuse, is also a form of violence. If one destroys himself gradually like a melting candle, he is violating the principle of Ahimsa. But if one stands like an oil lamp and spreads light (goodness/benefit), it gets well with the principle of Ahimsa. In martyrdom, one really violates the code of Ahimsa.
There are fools and ignorant people who put forward hollow arguments to justify their sins. ‘When you eat what is killed, your sins are atoned’ or ‘If you make confessions (admit your wrong doings) you are forgiven’. These are lame excuses, because even the Bible says ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’. The Ramayana says: ‘Whatever deeds you do repeatedly, you will have to bear the consequences of such actions. There is no escape from this’.
(than than nirantharam cheyyunna karmangal,
than thananubhavicheedukenne varoo)
Truth means the Supreme Truth. The poet Pomthanam wrote the same as: ‘Truth is nothing but Brahman (Awareness). This is believed by the noble ones’. The Dharmasastras exhorts, ‘Satyam vada, Dharmam chara’ (speak the Truth; practice righteousness).
Astheyam means non-stealing or coveting the possession of others, ie. what does not belong to you rightfully. When one acquires wealth or objects of his desire, it should be done without violating the principles of Dharma. When Sitadevi wished to possess the golden deer, it lead to her misery.
In order to earn money (wealth) by any means people in their youth often overdo this, at the cost of their health. In order to recoup the lost health, they have to spend a lot of money later. Finally they end up losing both money and health. These are real examples seen in our daily lives.
If one looks (peers) at a women with lust in mind, or flirts with them, or has illicit relationships, then he is committing adultery in one form or the other. By such acts he may lose his name, fame, status, money, his discriminating power, good conduct, his ancestral image or glory, and perhaps, even his life, prematurely. Desire should be for intellectual satisfaction and for spiritual unity. It should not be mad infatuation. This is the basis of Indian philosophy and tenets.
The story of Ahalya in Ramayana shows that though she was a virtuous woman unwittingly deceived and seduced by Indra, her immoral conduct led to her fall. Her husband sage Gautama cursed her to become a stone. She was restored to her original form by Rama. Shurpanakha, a demoness under the influence of her uncontrollable infatuation lost her nose and breasts.
Unbridled sexual desire, which does not fall under Dharma has created its progeny in the form of the monster AIDS. Even today this monster taunts and teases scientists who are trying to deal with AIDS. In excess, anything, even ambrosia is not good. There is no need to explain the consequences of uncontrolled sexual desires and relationships, any further.
Abstemiousness includes avoiding the use of items like liquor, opium, marijuana and tobacco. All these are mood elevators giving a false sense of pleasure (euphoria). An inebriated person abuses and harms both his mind and body. When he goes out of control, she starts abusing and harassing others. When one consumes liquor what he gets is not pleasure but mental imbalance. It is a temporary loss of sanity. It is a waste of time to advise such a person about righteousness, when he is not in his senses.
Today drugs have turned out to be far more fatal intoxicants or mood elevators than liquor. Those who have become slave to this habit through addiction do not hesitate to stoop down to any level to get money to buy drugs. (men will do any menial jobs, and women sell their body).
When a group of drunkards meet their topic of discussion will be liquor or liquor related subjects. This is true of others involved in similar addictions. Factual knowledge or reality is never a subject of importance to them. In this context, the company of virtuous people plays a significant role in reforming them. When Ratnakara, the hunter, had the good fortune to meet the Sapta Rishis (seven sages), he turned a new leaf in his life and became the reformed sage Valmiki. Many great souls who had the good fortune to live and work with Guru became immortal. There are also instances of people who were fortunate to meet Guru at least once in their life time and thus get over their unending sorrows. All these examples prove the greatness of sat-sang (the company or proximity to spiritually awakened people).
The four codes of conduct mentioned in Dharma-panchakam, namely, honesty, non-stealing, un-adultery and abstemiousness (temperance) fall under non-violence. In other words, falsehood hunts someone or other. Adultery is an indirect violence against morality or against one’s spouse. Consumption of liquor tantamount to abusing or injuring one’s body and mind. Hence the Dharma-sastra exhorts, ‘Ahimsa Paramo Dharma’ (Non-violence is the greatest Dharma). In order to clarify the concept of Ahimsa, Guru has taken the trouble to compose Jeeva-karunya-panchakam (The five verses of compassion towards living creatures) and Anukamba-dasakam (The ten verses on sympathy).
Kaala is the Lord of Dharma. Kaala means ‘Time’ and therefore the god Kaala is the cause of and ruler of all things and thus gives form to time, which otherwise is eternal and unlimited. There is a limit to which adharma is permissible for all. When the pot of sins becomes full with commitment of actions violating moral codes of conduct, premature death occurs. To avoid such a predicament, one has to remain steadfast on the path of Dharma.
Sudhi-panchakam deals with purity of the body, mind, speech, sense organs and the home. The Gita treats body as a temple (B.G. 13.1). When the temple gets desecrated, the inmate (Kshetrajna ie. the soul) leaves the body. That is called death. If you kill and eat, it is violation of Dharma. One who is prone to killing ultimately meets with his own death. Hence it is appropriate to turn to natural foods, which does not cause loss of lives or killing animals.
The purity of body means external and internal purity. Internal purity means purity of food and drinks.
The body is made of five basic elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether). Guru has dealt with this beautifully in Pindanandi stanza 2.
(The earth, water, fire, air and ether, You combined these in specific proportions, put in an enclosed room, alit the fire, protected me from the tormenting Goddess by giving the nectar and reared me from a lump of flesh).
The first line of the stanza refers to the five elements. The body which is composed of these five elements has, the same five elements as its food, but in different forms. Fasting is equivalent to consumption of ether. Normal breathing and pranayama (controlled breathing) involves the consumption of air. Sun baths and Surya-namaskar (prostration to the sun god) are forms of consuming fire (heat). Drinking water, water therapy and bathing in water amount to consumption of water. The fifth element earth gets into the human system as solid foods or as medicines.
Man should eat to live and not live to eat. Once a person crosses thirty years in age, he has to inevitably control his diet. The opulent make a grave mistake in this matter. Therefore they are prone to diseases like diabetes, hypertension and to premature death. A body, in which air does not enter (eating too much), is like a house without ventilation. When the poor die of starvation, the rich die from over eating. People who eat meat after killing animals, or harass humans (another form of killing) die from diseases like heart attack, prematurely. One may go to the extent of interpreting this as what is said in Dharmasastra ‘The killer will get killed ultimately’.
There is a belief among Hindus, that if a corpse enters a temple, the temple gets desecrated. From the same angle, can a person who eats meat or fish (corpses of animals) enter a temple? Does not eating meat amount to desecrating the ‘temple’ of the human body?
The basis of all actions is the thoughts behind them. If the mind and thoughts are good or noble, everything will turn out to be good. Upasanamarga is prescribed for the purity of the mind, with this in view.
If one does not control his speech, at times it may bring bodily harm. Those who have the habit of spreading false rumours or scandals must know this. Dharmasastra exhorts: ‘One should say only what pleases others. Even if something is true, but it hurts someone, it must not be uttered. This is the rule of eternal Dharma’. Guru has said: ‘If a word has to be pure, it must be true, beneficial to others and with equal attitude towards all people’.
Indriyasudhi (purity of organs of sense and actions) means that the organs must function within the code of conduct prescribed by Dharma. This includes avoiding prohibited or obscene sights, and not listening to what should not be heard. This also includes those actions which create scare (fear) in others. ‘The organs should not be abused or pampered. One should keep away from what is not normally appropriate’. Guru said that the above actions purify the sense and action organs.
The kitchen is as important to a home, as heart is to man. If the kitchen is unhygienic, it will not provide health to the inmates of the house. We should understand that Grihasudhi (cleanliness of the home) means cleanliness of the internal and external environment in a home. This includes availability of pure air and clean water. The kitchen is mentioned specifically, only as an example to carry home the point. ‘The inside of the house should be accessible to sunlight and good ventilation. All rotten and rancid materials should be discarded and the house and its environs must be kept spotlessly clean. One should not commit nuisance in the vicinity of the house. It is good to burn incense sticks or other perfumery in the evening around dusk’. This is what the Guru has said on ‘Grihasudhi’.
Guru has further mentioned that those who observe and follow this Sudhipanchakam which provides health, long life, and joy and is beneficial to the soul (mental peace), will become energetic, famous, healthy and lead a long life.
The path of Dharma is the same as the path of good health. In other words acquiring wealth and objects of desires should be done without being detrimental to one’s health. Therefore those who are concerned (or think about being healthy) should first think about righteous way of living following the codes of conduct of Dharma. Where Dharma-panchakam and Sudhi-panchakam does not exist, it is impossible to have health. During the time of Mahabali, it is said, ‘There were no sorrows or diseases and no infant mortality.’ (aadhikal vyadhikalonnumilla, balamaranangal kelpanilla.) The reason is simple, Dharma flourished in those times.
Today the sick are increasing in number. The main reason for this is the deterioration of Dharmic way of life. Science has provided man with all types of comforts. But, to what effect? They are not really beneficial to him since there is violation of Dharma. The West is looking towards the East to remedy this situation. But the Indians are aping the west!
If a patient thinks that the doctor will take care of everything regarding health, so long as he takes the medicines as prescribed. This wrong notion needs to be corrected. We say often, ‘If I do my half, the other half God will do’. This is also true of a doctor’s treatment of a patient. The patient should think, ‘I shall do my part, and the doctor take care of the rest’. At this juncture it is worth remembering the concept of Pathiyam (dietary regimen or restrictions). Ayurveda says, ‘Without medicines but with proper dietary control it is possible to cure diseases, but without proper dietary control even hundred doctors are of no use to cure a disease’.
Without Dharma, science is a demon, and the scientist is a devilish intellect. The biggest handicap of allopathy lies in that it is not based on Dharma. Therefore, such doctors can overcome this shortcoming by studying Sreenarayana-dharma. In fact one must study Dharma first, and then medical science.
In the 8th chapter Guru has included the actions required to make amends for errors and omissions resulting from wrongdoings while observing Dharma-panchakam and Sudhi-panchakam. These are in the form of 5 yajnas ( yajna means worship or sacrifice, and also homage). There is an old adage, ‘The sins committed in various births will come as diseases or suffering’. Here it is mentioned that one can find remedial solutions to his past sins and recoup his health. The five yajnas are: Brahmayajnam, Devayajnam, Pitruyajnam, Manushayajnam and Bhootayajnam.
Brahmayajnam (Homage to sages). This is learning and teaching Brahmavidya (the knowledge of Brahman, the ultimate Truth). At the individual level it means the daily study of sacred scriptures and sharing this knowledge with others. This includes chanting of holy names or mantras (japa). Even a woman in her periods can chant these mantras. Without japa life is like a gruel without salt (seasoning). (It will be bland and tasteless and hence not enjoyable.)
Devayajnam (Homage to Gods). This is to please Gods. This includes rites prescribed in the Vedic texts, like homa (sacrificial fire). Those who cannot perform homam my light agarbathis (incense sticks), camphor etc. This homage is to recognize the powers that guide the world and the evolutions of man and his world.
Pitruyajna (Homage to ancestors). This is offering libations and the like to one’s forefathers regularly, as prescribed. This includes offering of rice balls (pinda) and water (tharpanam) to the family line and to progenitors of mankind (also called shraddha).
Manushayajna (Homage to humans). This includes feeding of guests, the poor, servants, needy students and all forms of philanthropy or whatever is done for the welfare of mankind. Guru’s words like ‘What each performs for the happiness of the self, should be conducive to the happiness of others’ (Atmopadesa-satakam-24) and ‘Helping others is virtuous (punya)’ describe such actions. In Manushayajna the most important aspect is charity (danam). Of charitable actions, offering of food (annadanam) is considered supreme. The uniqueness of annadanam lies in the fact that you are able to give (feed) a person to his full satisfaction and contentment.
Bhootayajna (Homage to beings). Giving foods to crows, fish, insects and animals is called Bhootayajna. When Pitruyajna is performed it is customary to offer rice balls to crows or fishes. The practice of feeding fish in some temples (meenoottu) is a form of Bhootayajna.
In Sreenarayana-dharma (189,190) the following is said: ‘Those who do not perform the 5 yajnas are sure to suffer (misery). Those who eat the food left from yajna are not touched (affected) by sins’. ‘One who does not share with Gods and ancestors, even a part of what he has inherited from them, becomes an eternal betrayer’. Every devotee should reflect to know why Guru has used such strong language to emphasize this point.
To recover from a disease the sick has to take medicines himself. To appease one’s hunger one has to eat himself. Thinking on these lines, observance of the 5 yajnas oneself must be considered nobler than making offerings in temples. In temples importance is given to tantric solutions. What Guru has recommended here is a spiritual solution which is eternal in nature.
The Sreenarayana culture or value system is the culture of those who live according to Sreenarayana-dharma. Those who call themselves (pride themselves) as followers of the Guru without observing his code of conduct or value system, are literally harming (disrespecting) Guru. Sreenarayana-dharma is the dharma of entire humanity. Earlier proponents of Dharma divided people in to various castes and gave separate Dharma for each caste. The relevance of such divisions has lost its significance today. The Dharma that is most relevant today is Sreenarayana-dharma. There is no need to burn Manusmriti. Guru has already rectified it by including what is relevant and excluding what is not relevant today.
Dharma alone is the transcendental God.
Dharma alone is infinite wealth.
Dharma alone becomes victorious everywhere.
Let Dharma lead to the prosperity of all human beings’
Let such noble words of the Gurudeva lead everyone to good health and prosperity. This is my prayer.
(Stage of Householder Life)
Some of the essential things that a householder should know have been reproduced here from Sreenarayana-dharma. It is advisable to have a copy of the book (in full) handy.
Bringing up (tending) Infants.
112. A lady who brings up child must be healthy, compassionate, humble, pleasant, well mannered and conversant with the rules of ethical living.
113. The interior of the house must be decorated aesthetically with hygienic articles. The child should be put on a bed with clean and soft sheets.
114. Improper words, articles, narrating unpleasant incidents, disrespectful behaviour and anger, should not be uttered or displayed before the child.
115. Up to 5 years of age, the mother should rear the child. She should fondle him; motivate him, and look after his likes. She should narrate stories of great men (to instill similar good qualities in the child). Should pronounce words correctly and clearly. The child should be brought up giving great attention to hygienic food, and by putting on clean and attractive attire.
Initiating the Child’s Education.
117. A child, who has been brought up in the above manner, should be initiated into basic education, with the assistance of a learned and spiritually oriented teacher.
118. The person who initiates the child in to the 3 R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic), should be learned and devoted. He should have a compassionate heart and a good moral conduct.
119. The child should be given a clean bath and made to sit facing the preceptor (teacher/guru). Then the sacred mantra should be written on the child’s tongue with a piece of gold (usually a golden ring).
120. After prostrating, the child should be asked to chant (repeat) the words pronounced by the guru. Then, he should be blessed with a pleasant feeling and smiling face, by the parents and teacher.
(Laws of each order (stage) of life)
124. The ancient teachers, who are highly respected, have prescribed four stages (order) in life, namely, (1) Brahmacharya (stage of celibacy and seeking spiritual and material knowledge), (2) Grihasthasramam (stage of householder), (3) Vanaprastham (elderly who retires to forest life) and (4) Sanyasam (religious recluse or solitaire).
125. Yet, the intelligent and faithful ones, in today’s context 3 ashramas (order of life) are enough. This has been proclaimed even in Vedic times.
126. In my opinion, these are Brahacharyam, Grihastasramam and Sanyasa. At the outset, let me tell about their basic attributes.
127. For a male, the period of Brahmacharya (studentship) is from the time of initiation into learning to the age of 24. For a female, this is up to the age of 16.
128. When the prescribed period of Brahmacharya ends, if a person desires to become a householder, he can terminate his Brahmacharya. Otherwise he should not do so.
131. Having performed one’s duties as a householder, a person can withdraw from it. At the age 60, one should, on his own will (volition), renounce the world to become a recluse.
132. One who departs this world after observing the period of Brahmacharya, and the duties of a householder, according to the rules laid down in the code of conduct, such wise one is called a Rishi (seer).
[Brahmacharya and Grihasthasram, are pravritti-marga in life going towards the world and therefore of ambition and desire. Renunciation is nivritti-marga moving away from the world.]
136. Just as the work done in the day provides comfort at the night, and the work done in the first 8 months of the year brings joy in the next four months of rain, the good deeds of the childhood become useful to provide comforts (benefits) in adult life.
137. What is done in adulthood serves for the comforts of old age. Whatever deeds a man does in his lifetime (till death) becomes useful in his next birth.
The Householder’s Duties
171. Now on, I shall relate the code of conduct prescribed for a householder. May I have your ears (attention). The householder life is the seat of the triad, Dharma, artha and kama. That is also the way that opens the door to liberation (Moksha).
172. After studying all the scriptures scrupulously as instructed by the guru, one should enter the stage of a householder with a pure mind, after taking permission from one’s parents and teachers.
173. One should get betrothed to a girl with a good family background, who follows the right codes of conduct, who is well-mannered, and endowed with pleasant physical features (beauty). She must be acceptable to both parents and teachers.
174. While entering into sexual union with wife, one should follow the rules of moral conduct. Life is to observe righteous deeds and householder’s discipline is for procreation.
175. The wealth accumulated during Grihasthasramam is for giving away in charity (so that it becomes beneficial to humanity). Food should be prepared to share with the guests and destitute, and not just for one’s own consumption.
176. The following are the qualities of a householder:- (i) love towards all beings. (ii) a compassionate heart. (iii) equality in one’s attitude (behaviour) towards others.
178. The bride and bridegroom should be selected from within the same spiritual community. Marriage has to be performed by a competent person in a gurukulam or in a temple.
179-180. The parents of the bride, the parents of the groom, a colleague each of the bride and the bridegroom, a relative of the bride and of the bridegroom, a teacher and a priest totaling to ten people should be present in a wedding ceremony. To have less than that does not seem appropriate for the welfare of the community or group.
181. The practice of taking and giving dowry has been condemned by all ethical minded people. Taking and giving dowry amounts to selling one’s children (it becomes a commercial transaction instead of a spiritual union).
182. Once a girl has been promised in marriage to a person even verbally, she should not be married off to another person. If there is a slip in this matter, it amounts to violation of Dharma.
183. Those who suffer from diseases like leprosy, tuberculosis, breathing problems, asthma or cardiac diseases or from poverty should not get married. (AIDS can be added to this list today).
184. If after marriage anyone of the couple is affected by a communicable disease, they should avoid sexual union in the larger interest of the community.
191. The house, in which a couple live with undivided love to each other, will become sanctified and be full of prosperity.
193. A person who shares his food in order to avoid committing a sin (or as a virtuous act) will never be childless or lose his children.
194. An undaunting householder, who proceeds steadfast in his principles of Dharma and is always engrossed in dharmic deeds, will become the foremost among all ascetics.
195. One who leads others through the path of Dharma, and himself does not waver in its observance, is called a supreme (noble) observer of Dharma.
196. If it is beneficial to all, then the Grihasthasrama-dharma is the best form of Dharma. But if it harms others, it is adharma (sin).
199. A girl who attains puberty (gets her first monthly period), becomes purified when she takes the (ritual) bath after 7 days, and the house is cleaned with holy water and homam (sacrificial fire). Later when she gets her monthly periods, she becomes pure after bath and performance of homam.
201. All the household materials used by the woman during her periods should be washed in water and made clean by drying.
202. After the menstrual bath (4 days after the onset of periods), for the next twelve days the husband should lovingly approach the wife for sexual union. In this context parvas (certain prohibited days) should be avoided.These include Ashtami (the 8th day of full/new moon), Chathurdasi (14th day after full/new moon), Amavasya (the New-moon day), eclipses, religious festivals, the days when sun crosses the equator (Samkramams).
203. Since these twelve days are the most appropriate and apt for conception, one who desires a child should approach his wife. Other times are considered a taboo.
204. From the time of conception to the time the child is weaned (ie. not on breast milk), the parents should live with spiritual restraint, avoiding sexual union.
205. There is a reason for this. If the above restrictions are not observed, then the mother and child may get diseases, have chances of premature death, and suffer from loss of vital energy. The breast milk may also become impure.
206. A pregnant woman should consume milk-based food products regularly. Remaining chaste, she should listen to stories about virtuous people, and remain happy all the time.
207. She should not suffer unhappiness for any reason, whatsoever, she should avoid unpleasant thoughts.
208. The pregnant lady should pray for an easy and painless labour, and that she begets a child with all good qualities.
209. The householder should display interest in serving all, from a child in the womb to a person in the death bed.
212. The power of the state (ruler), the status of Dharma, and the condition of the world depends on the code of conduct followed by the householders, as citizens. Therefore the householder is the support for everything in a country. (A nation is as good as its citizens.)
213. In view of this, the philosophic thinkers, and the wise laud the stage in life as a householder, as the foremost (greatest) among all the four asramas.
214. Whichever community (or nation) disgraces or degrades the codes of conduct to be observed by the householder, will suffer a decline and fall in its splendour, greatness and progress.
218. In life one should not consider marriage as a means for enjoyment; or as a part of one’s right to obtain pleasure.
219. Therefore, those who wish to enter Grihasthasrama should think and consider well before embarking on a married life.
220. If there be compatibility (between couples) in educational level, wealth, age, looks and manners, it results in development of mutual love, which becomes strong bound in a married life.
221-22. A man is born, and dies only once in a lifetime. A person who lives an indiscipline life is liable to be born again and again. Similarly, a coward dies a hundred times (the brave but once). These two types of people are not suited to married life.
223. A man’s love for a woman should be for his life time, when he marries her. Therefore a person should marry only once in his life.
226. A second marriage may be performed once. Not again and again. A person who marries a number of times loses the benefit of his virtuous deeds.
227-28. Both health and marital love deserve equal importance. Therefore a couple should have a medical examination to ascertain their state of health and their ability to procreate children. This can prevent another marriage and the need to go for tests again and again.
229. A medical examination is appreciated and advised for the birth of healthy children. The parents of the bride should function as advisors on the codes of conduct expected of a newly wed couple.
230. The well-wishers of the couple should behave lovingly towards the newly wed couple. Without restraining their freedom they should prevent their indiscretions.
231. The householder should avoid taking advantage of (benefit from) the numerous things that are available in his in-law’s house, which can lead to mutual misunderstanding and mental anguish (later).
234-35. The couple should share equally all their joys and sorrows. In the performance of their respective duties, they should be cooperative so as to avoid fault finding. They should not adopt ways that destroy their love and trust. They should examine together and clarify any mistakes or misunderstandings. These are the attributes of Dharma.
236. A wife deserves praise, when she behaves in a well-bred manner, and has qualities matching those of her husband, and spends money according to the income, and remains untainted.
237. If the housewife is not virtuous, even the most respectable family will become devoid of good qualities (virtues). By and by the family will perish.
238. If she has noble qualities (virtues), even an ordinary family, will, in course of time, slowly acquire those noble qualities.
239. A virtuous and chaste wife is the priceless and the most important possession of a man in his life.
240. A chaste woman who is spiritually oriented, who looks after her husband’s needs, and who ensures that no harm comes to her or her family, is considered the noblest.
241. One who guards her honour, even outside of her protective environment at home, is considered a noble wife.
242. A housewife, who is an embodiment of good qualities, and a noble lady, is like a lamp that does not flicker even in a storm. She is the personification of the godess of wealth, Lakshmi.
243. A husband, living with such a wife, should observe the codes and perform his duties of a householder, constantly and without any hindrance.
244. A person who observes his duties as a householder, and becomes the source of eternally auspicious deeds, will, after fulfillment of what is expected of him, attain the state of Bliss (Moksha).
(Guide to Funeral Rites)
248. When a woman, child, youth or old person dies, their bodies have to be cremated to maintain environmental hygiene. There is no other religious injunction/code.
249. It is proposed that the relatives should observe ten days of seclusion due to the impurity arising from death in the family. On the eleventh day, Homa (sacrificial offering to the Fire God) should be performed, and the house and environment purified with holy water.
250. On the last day, purification is achieved by the ritual bath, as prescribed. No other rituals have to be observed for the departed soul.
251. The son is the most eligible person to offer Pinda (small rice balls) to his departed father. In the absence of a son, the grandson (son’s son) can perform this ceremony. If this is not feasible, a brother or his son may be assigned this job.
252. In the absence of all the above persons, let the son of the sister offer the Pinda. Or else, a living spouse can offer Pinda to the departed soul.
253-54. A person, with mental reservation that all the purification rites for the departed person are meaningless and are display of ignorance, is under no compulsion to follow these injunctions. These injunctions are meant only for the others (believers).
256. Those who believe in the need for religious rites should follow the instructions recommended by the priest in accordance with and suitable the times and place.
259. A person who has attained inner peace after observing the prescribed duties at the various stages in life, as a celibate in childhood and later as a householder, is eligible to adopt an ascetic life, that is become a monk.
260. A woman who has achieved spiritual disciplines like inner peace, and the discriminative knowledge between the eternal and transient and who is detached from worldly things and desires, is entitled to become an ascetic, as much as a man.
261. If a celibate or a householder desiring to become an ascetic due to his aversion or dispassion towards worldly life, and consequent spiritual awakening, requests a guru to initiate him into the life of a recluse, the guru should do so without waiting for an appropriate time to do so.
262. Without the consent of a guru, an ignorant person should not unilaterally choose the life of an ascetic, due to his impatience.
263. Those without detachment to the material world, aversion to worldly life and without control over their mind, do not merit renunciation. They are like a seed that has lost its power to sprout.
264. An ascetic should not have more affection/attachment towards his own family and friends. Whatever love he has for his fellow beings, the same he displays towards them.
265. A Parivrajaka (a wandering mendicant) with a pure antakarana (the inner faculty consisting of the mind, intellect and ego) should not love (get attached to) just one thing, place, or person. To an ascetic all living beings are his brethren.
266-67. Having first obtained the guru’s consent, an aspirant of sanyas should tonsure his head and get inner purification and greatness with the performance of Homa (sacrificial offering to Fire God), he should circumambulate the guru and prostrate fully with the whole body touching the ground. Then he should accept ochre robes (Kashaya vastra) and a Kamandalu (holy vessel or water jar, which symbolizes an ascetic’s simple and self-contained life).
268. A person who has conquered his senses should perform japa (recitation of sacred mantras or chants), meditate, worship the Supreme, observe purity in thought, word and deed, and control his life breath through inner discipline, on the lines advised by the guru.
269-70. The body of a dead ascetic should not be confined to flames (cremated). A pit of proper dimension should be dug to place the body erect, and covered with soil. Over this pit, saplings of trees like peepul, wood apple (Bilva or bael) or mango should be planted. There is no need for any purification rites when an ascetic departs this world.
271-72. An ascetic with a renounced state of mind can, on his volition, live in a monastery, temple, public lodging, cave, river bank, seashore, or the house of a celibate. He should avoid other places since they can be detrimental to his spiritual and detached way of living.
273. Under unavoidable and dangerous circumstances, an enlightened ascetic may live in the home of a householder for three days, but not beyond that period.
274. Ascetics who are free from sins should be a member of a cenobite (a convent or religious community who live and serve together.) This will enhance the upliftment of all who have the same principles of spiritual life.
275. The highest spiritual way for an ascetic to attain his release from this world (of births and re-berths) is the acquisition of spiritual wisdom. If he desires to follow the path advised by his guru, then his greatest aim in life should be to attain Samadhi (total absorption in the object of meditation, which is the Supreme.)
276. A dispassionate ascetic should perform his duties for the benefit of others. Through this he will attain peace of mind and, in due course, spiritual wisdom.
277. The assets of a dead ascetic will go to his guru. Otherwise, it may go to the monastery or to his disciples. By no means it will belong to any one else.
278. An ascetic should acquire spiritual knowledge by serving his guru everyday by being near him, learn Vedas (scriptures), and by constantly reflecting on what is learnt to know the Truth.
279. To the extent an ascetic practices sacrifice (unselfish actions); to that level he attains bliss through contentment. Therefore, to earn Supreme Bliss he must make the greatest sacrifices.
280. No living being is afraid of dispassionate (egoless) ascetic. Similarly the ascetic has no fear of any creature.
281. An ascetic should not glorify either life or death. Just as a servant awaits his master’s orders he should wait for his time while leading his life.
282. It is true that an ascetic should lead a life of selfless sacrifice. But he should not completely give up the desire to acquire knowledge, the great virtues like shama and cleanliness.
[The six great virtues (Shatkasampatti), shama (inner control, especially of the mind) dama (control of the organs of sense), uparama (fulfiment of one’s duties or Dharma), titiksha (the patient endurance of all pairs of opposites), shradha (faith in the holy scriptures and the trust in the guru), and samaadhaana (the faculty of concentration and contemplation alone on the vedic texts and the words of the guru].
283. An ascetic should not show his ire towards a person who is angry with him. He should not scold a person who upbraids him. He should talk to him full of love.
284. An ascetic should not use his knowledge of priestly functions, astrology, medicine, logic or law, grammar (linguistic skills) and similar expertise, as a means to earn a livelihood, even under difficult circumstances.
285. He should consume food only to keep himself alive. Not more than that. Overeating leads to passions/desires, hatred/aversions, and to diseases.
286. With moderation in food and solitude he should practice meditation in the most appropriate way.
287. After taking bath in the morning and evening, he should perform Pranayama (control of vital breath) followed by chanting of 108 OM (Pranava mantra), without any distraction.
288. An ascetic should sit comfortably with a composed mind that is not affected by opposites like, attraction or repulsion towards objects, but practice meditation which is his highest duty.
289-90. For a human being the highest level of self-actualization is renunciation. The truth being so, after becoming an ascetic if a person indulges in ignoble acts due to his lack of concentration/discretion, he will become a subject of ridicule/criticism and thus bring his downfall. Therefore, he should never allow any interruption to his duties as an ascetic.
291. If an ascetic is forced to return to the householder life where he is not able to carry out his sacred duties, he does not deserve to be an ascetic any more.
292. All the disciples of a senior guru should congregate in one place during Chaturmasya. [Chaturmasya is a period starting from one full moon day (Poornima) and ending with the fourth full moon following it.]
293. An ascetic, as the guardian of Dharma, should never vilify another person. Such vilification results in loss of his spiritual power, austerity, and intellectual abilities.
294. An ascetic should disseminate spiritual wisdom and good code of conduct and behaviour to others for the benefit of mankind without lethargy. This is the role of a person who has renounced the worldly life.
295. An ascetic should attain a state of dispassion and provide all help to others without hindrance to his righteous way of life and spiritual commitment to moral discipline.
(Five stanzas on the Human Quality of Mercy)
The five principles of Dharma are ahimsa (non-violence), satyam (truth), astheyam (non-stealing), avyabhicharam (unadultery), and madyavarjanam (abstemiousness). The last four principles are in fact a form of non-violence, because any action that violates these principles hurts the other person. Therefore the Dharma-sastra extols ahimsa as “Ahimsa paramo dharma”- ie “Ahimsa is the utmost righteousness”. Guru has covered this principle of ahimsa in this work.
This work deals with the subject of killing animals and eating their meat. All that really exists in this world is ONE Supreme Being (Paramatma). The scriptures say “Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma”- Everything (that exists) is, indeed, Brahman. All creatures are considered as brethren since they are created by One Supreme Being. From that angle, killing a living being is like killing one’s own brother (or sister). So both killing an animal and eating it can be considered as an act of sin.
The law of karma says “You reap, what you sow”. There is another adage- “Those who live by the sword shall perish by it”. If this is true, the killer will ultimately be killed. Therefore, to avoid being killed, one has to desist from killing one’s fellow beings. Dharma-sastra rests on the principle of Ahimsa, based on the law of Dharma/karma. In other words, every action should be Dharmic by itself.
Is it not correct to say that we are all fellow beings under one brotherhood? If we think on these lines, how can we kill and eat animals, having no mercy. What we see as creations is the Creator Himself. This concept has been lucidly introduced in Daiva-dasakam, stanza 5.
The Supreme Being dwells in all animate and inanimate objects. Thus all of us are brothers-in-atman. As such, we have to consider the killing of a creature, as equivalent to killing one’s own brother. One who eats his own fellow being, is really consuming sin.
You may come across people who claim that “I don’t kill, I only consume the killed’. Guru says that instead of proclaiming or taking a vow, that I shall not kill, it is nobler to take a vow, that I shall not eat meat. It is the meat's consumer who encourages or persuades the killer to act.
“Thou shalt not kill” is one of the ten commandments in Christianity. It means one should not hurt any living being through one’s thoughts, speech, or actions. Even ‘hurting’, without killing, can be considered as an act of violence.
Islam permits killing of animals. Vegetables, grains and fruits do not grow in the desert areas. Hence some amount of killing of animals for their meat is unavoidable, for them for survival. Thus that religion permits this form of ‘violence’, when needed.
Yet all religions accept the law of karma that “As you sow, so shall you reap”. There are people who make pronouncements like this “The sin of killing is countered by the act of eating (the meat)”. Some even claim and propagate that confession (in the church) is an atonement for one’s sin, and one is pardoned and then continue sinning. The law of karma does not accept this argument.
When it comes to one’s own self, who likes to be killed? Thinking a step further who likes such a sinful action? O! The learned ones, is it not proper to say that, whatever is done in the righteous way should be beneficial to both the doer and the receiver. In other words, an action becomes dharmic, when it brings good to both the performer and the affected person. Even if the performer benefits, and not the person affected by his action, then it becomes a non-righteous (adharmic) action. This is further elaborated in stanza 25 of Atmopadesa-satakam.
If there were no consumers of meat, there would be no suppliers who slaughter animals to provide the meat. If there are no takers for his produce, the killer will be forced to consume it himself. The one who eats is making others to slaughter animals for his sake and thus commit a sin. This sin is worse than ‘killing’ to make a ‘living’. Guru has attempted in this stanza to refute the argument of meat-eaters who say “I only eat, I don’t kill”.
A person who leads a life adhering to principles of ahimsa is a noble individual. Otherwise, he can be equated to an animal. (Even animals kill only to satisfy their hunger, and for survival). The killer has no room for salvation. Being a killer even others cannot take refuge in him.
It is observed that non-vegetarians are more prone to diseases than others, who don’t consume meat. Blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and premature death are more common in non-vegetarians. This is something that we witness everyday. There are more people dying by consuming the wrong food, than from starvation. When one violates Dharma (non-violence), it can result in loss of health, wealth and respect. In extreme cases such people even lose their lives prematurely. Therefore, one should have greater awareness about one’s food habits, and have a diet that does not harm other creatures.
In Indian culture and tradition, the emphasis is on “Ayurarogyam”. In other words, life and health are considered as one entity, and not as separate issues. When modern science tries to improve health by neglecting dharma, premature death haunts man more and more. Let this work of Gurudeva become the instrument and eye opener to those devotees interested in long and healthy lives.
We can see Buddha's mythri (brother hood) and karuna (compassion) in this work.
(Ten stanzas on Compassion)
Providing help to others has been defined as a virtuous action (punya) and inflicting suffering on others has been considered as a sinful act (papa). A compassionate mind rests on righteous or virtuous actions. Guru has elaborated the greatness of compassion using the medium of Anukamba-dasakam, and exhorts us to make compassion a regular habit. This work was written in 1914.
oru peeda yerumbinum varu-
karunakara nalkukullil nin
thirumay vittakalatha chinthyum.
O! the Compassionate One (Karunakara), please bestow on me the feeling (the quality) that I should not cause suffering even to an ant, and that I should always have within me the thought that I should not distance myself from You.
Karunakaran (the creator of compassion) is the embodiment of compassion. When a devotee gets the awareness of God within (the Jeevatma and Paramatma are ONE), he also becomes a compassionate individual. When a devotee feels compassion and devotion (Dharma and Bhakti) within, he is a blessed one.
In the epic Mahabharata, Dharmaputra is described as the personification of Dharma. It was his devotion to the Lord, that made him and his brothers victorious in the Kurukshetra war. When Dharmaputra played the game of dice, the Lord was not with him. Therefore he was defeated and lost everything. This clearly shows that it is not enough to have only Dharma, but it must be supported by devotion (Bhakti).
arulal varumimbam anpaka-
nnoru nenchaal varum allalokkeyum
irulanpine maattum allalin-
Compassion leads to joy. If there is no compassion in the heart, miseries are sure to follow. Ignorance (of the Lord) destroys compassion, and becomes the root cause of sorrow. This can even lead to premature death. A man reaps what he sows. Compassion begets compassion. Those actions committed without compassion for others lead to misery and suffering. Ignorance induces us to perform sinful acts. These become the cause of sorrow. It is also true that sinful acts can result in loss of money, health and fame. At times it may lead to premature demise.
arul anpanukamba moonninum
‘arulullavanaanu jeevi’ ye-
nnuruvitteeduka ee navakhari.
Compassion, mercy and honesty are qualities based on the same foundation of Truth. In principle, these motivate man to help others, which are of virtuous actions. Such actions assist a man to cross the ocean of Samsara (repeated births and deaths and associated sorrows).
“Only those who have compassion, are real human beings” (arulullavanaanu jeevi). This is a nine syllable mantra (in malayalam) coined by Guru. This should be chanted like any other mantra, according to Guru. Here he has assumed the role of a mantrasrashta (a creator of mantras).
sira naarunnorudambu thanavan
ppurushan nishphala gandha pushpamam.
A man without compassion is a stinking torso made of bones, skin and nerves. He is just an animal in a pigstay. Guru has described the body as a stinking barrel of a gun in Atmopadesa-satakam stanza 8.
If a man is devoid of compassion, he is like a mirag, which only gives the false notion of the existence of water. Similarly a man without compassion gives the false notion about himself, though, in fact, he cannot be called a human being. He is like a flower that does not have scent or bear fruit. Without these qualities, a flower is useless to man, like existence without a purpose.
varumaru vidham vikaravum
uruvamudal vittu keerthiya-
The human body takes birth, grows, undergoes metamorphosis, decays and finally gets destroyed. Compassion does not have these six different transformations. In other words, compassion (Truth) is timeless- it has no beginning or end. Compassionate persons will be remembered even after their death. They continue to live in the heart of millions, in the form of fame.
In the stanzas six to ten that follows, Guru has elaborated with examples, the features of compassionate souls.
guruvo yee anukambayandavan?
Lord Krishns, is refered to as the Charioteer who advises (Arjuna) about the eternal Truth. Lord Budha was an ocean of mercy and patience. (Jayadeva in Geetagovindam describes him as ‘sahrudayahrudaya’ –the compassionate hearted). Adi Sankara was the lucid exponent of Advaita philosophy. Guru says that a compassionate person can be considered equal to such great men.
purushkriti poonda daivamo?
naradivyakriti poonda dharmamo?
paramesa pavithra putrano?
karunavan nabi muthuratnamo?
Is the Compassionate person, the creator of compassion (God) in the human form? Or Dharma in the divine human form? Or else he may be Jesus, the son of God, or he the compassionate jewel, Prophet Mohammed?
jvara maatti vibhooti kondu mu-
nnaritham velakal cheytha moorthyo?
aruthathe valanju padiyau-
tharamam novu kedutha siddhano?
Or Is he the Thirujnanasambhandar, who could perform miracles? (cure illnesses with vibhooti), Or Is he Thirunavakkarasan, the rishi who wandered as a singer and alleviated the pain (sorrows) of people?
Is he the Manikavachakar, the great saint, who wrote the famous work on Lord Siva? Is he Nandanar, the selfless devotee of Parameswara who ascended heaven with his body?
tharuvo yee anukambayandavan.
Or Is he the divine cow (Kamadhenu- the cow that gives whatever you desire), in the form of a human? Or the Kalpavriksha, the divine tree that produces all that you ask for?
In stanza 5, Guru says compassion is Truth. After this he states that the compassionate ones are equal to the noble seekers/seers of Truth. In other words the compassionate people are also seers of Truth.
Arumamara refers to Vedas. What the Vedas state and the seers and preceptors (Gurus) say are the same. If we examine the Truth all Agamas teach the same.
The scriptures and seekers of Truth state this fact: “Providing help to others is a noble action- causing misery, is a sin”. (paropakaram punyam, papam para peedanam) The Gurudeva has covered this aspect in Atmopadesa-satakam stanzas 24 and 25.
It is not enough merely not to hurt or cause sorrow to others (non-violence), which is a form of inaction. One has to do good to others (action). This additional concept of positive action is implied in the words Jeeva-karunyam and Anukamba, which deal with compassion and mercy in the real sense and purport.
Caste discrimination was at its zenith in Guru’s life time. It does not mean it is not prevalent today. It is much more tolerant and understanding than that period. The low-caste people could not walk freely on the roads. They had to stand/walk at a safe distance from the upper-castes, to avoid polluting the latter. The lower-caste women should not cover their bosoms. They should wear clothes that do not reach below the knee. They were not to adorn themselves with gold ornaments. They were prohibited from installing and worshiping the idols of benevolent Gods. Admission to schools were denied. They could not get government jobs. Such were the shackles that bound them in that period.
The poet, Kumaranasan has written a verse on this which when translated loosely means;
“They are untouchables. They are polluting people. They are bad omen to come in your sight. They are without marriage bonds. They cannot sit and dine in the same table with others.”
Thus there were umpteen caste discriminations. In this work Guru has attempted to confront the devil of caste discrimination.
In the eyes of Veda, all creations are also the creator. Therefore all are brothers, born of the same parent, the creator. Guru asks ‘If this is so, where is the justification (place) for existence of class discrimination?’Using the same medium of Sastras; based on which the upper castes tried to establish their superiority, Guru pointed out the fallacy of caste system, by proving that it is against the scriptures.
jathir gotvam gavam yadha.
na brahmanadi rasaivam
ha tatvam vethi co-api na.
Humanity is the race of humans Just like bovinity is that of a cow.Brahmin-caste and such are not there.Nobody recognizes this fact, strange indeed.
The fist stanza is in Sanskrit. The rest is in local language Malayalam. Here Gurudeva assertains that for man humanity is the caste/race just like bovinity for the cow. This is the real fact. But people do not recognize this truth.
oru jathi oru matham
oru daivam manushyanu
One race, one religion, one God for man
One womb, one form there is no difference at all.
Humanity is the name of the common race of humans. Every man makes effort in everyway, all the time, for the happiness of the Self (Atmo-49.). This is the one religion. Consciousness is the one God. Man is born of woman. This is the universal womb. The forms and structure of people are the same. There are no major differences as seen by some people. Hence there is no proof to support race/caste discrimination among mankind.
Though the Gita says that the four class system is based on the three gunas (Satva, Rajo orTamo gunas) and karma (good deeds) performed by the person, the state of affairs here is like this- “Just as a cow begets a cow (as calf), a Brahmin is born out of a Brahmin!” Therefore, by conducting a sacred thread ceremony, a boy becomes a Brahmin. The definition of Brahmin is “One who knows Brahman (Brahma jnani) is a Brahmin.” This fact has been conveniently ignored or concealed, when a thread ceremony is conducted to make a boy a Brahmin. Whatever be his qualities (Satva, Rajas or Tamas) and whatever be his actions, he becomes a Brahmin by virtue of birth was decided by the authorities and their advisers. Thus a person wearing a sacred thread, at times indulged in adharmic (sinful) activities not befitting a Brahmin. In course of time the community faced deterioration and with that the total humanity.
oru jathiyil ninnallo
It is from one species young ones are born.
Human race if contemplated belong to one species.
Progeny is the result of union between man and woman. From this point, it can be interpreted that all humans belong to the same caste. In other words birth cannot determine a caste since all are born the same way.
It is from human race Brahmin is born.
What is the difference for a Pariah, who also takes birth in human race.
Both the high-caste Brahmin and the lowest caste Pariah, are both born in the same caste, Human-caste. What distinction is there between two humans? This shows that there are no two castes- but just one.
parachiyil ninnu pandu
pirannu mara suthricha muni
Sage Parasara, of the ancient days, was born of a Pariah-woman.
As also the sage of Vedic-aphorisms (Vedavyasa) was born of a virgin of the fisher-folk.
Vedavyasa was the son of sage Parasara and a fisher-woman (Satyavati), on whom he had an infatuation. The story of the sage Parasara and Vedavyasa show that all men belong to the same caste and birth is inconsequential. Otherwise they would not have become sages.
The distinctions or differences propagated by the caste system does not exist. These are created by individuals with vested interests. Distinctions exist only at the individual level.
Cows belong to the same (bovine) species. Similarly, humanity is the caste of humans. The distinction between individuals do not arise from caste. The classification should be based on their level of knowledge. ie. the knowledgeable and the ignorant, or on the basis of their cultural achievement. Cultured and not cultured, and so on. These differences have nothing to do with their birth.
The war against caste that was initiated by the Gurudeva, without bloodshed, has attracted the attention of the whole world.
(The Qualities of a species)
This work is closely related to the earlier one Jati-nirnnayam. Class/caste have to be distinguished on the basis of inherent qualities and not on man made criteria for distinction.
Guru who waged a warfare against the caste discrimination and religious hatred, has introduced the basis for determining a particular class. What he says is essentially the inherent qualities that distinguish a species from another. Guru’s perception of caste (class) is the same as what modern science defines as ‘species’.
punarnnu perum ellamo-
inama llinamami ngo-
All that are born through the (sexual) union of male/female belong to the same class/species. Others are not the same species. Those that court each other also belong to the same class.
oro yinathinum meyyu-
moro mathiri yochayum
manavum chuvayum choodum
thanuvum nokku morkanam.
Each class has its distinctive form, speech, scent, taste, sight and body temperature. (hot blooded and cold blooded and within them temperature differences)
thudar nnoronnilum vevve-
pirichoronnu mingu nam.
Since each class has its distinctive features, we are able to identify them as belonging to a particular ‘group’.
peruru thozhilee moonnum
poru mayathu kelkuka
aaru neeyennu kelkenda
neru maithanne cholkayal.
When you want to get acquainted with a person, ask for his name, native place and vocation or the job he does. There is no need to ask what ‘caste’ he is. His body characteristics, speech and behaviour will tell you his caste/class, ie his level of cultural achievement.
inamarnnudal than thante-
yina methennu cholkayal
The physical features or characteristics of an animal, tells to what class/species it belongs to. Therefore, with the power of perception and cognition understand class and do not ask about class/caste. All men belong to one class (homo sapiens). That a person belongs to the ‘human’ species is evident when you see him. Then what is the need to ask about the caste/class he belongs to. This explanation leads us to its corollary, in the form of a message
“Don’t enquire about caste,
Don’t tell about your caste,
Don’t think in terms of caste.”
poli chollunninam cholva-
Some people are ashamed to reveal their caste/class. So they resort to telling a lie. When all men are considered as one caste, there is nothing to be ashamed to be a human. Hence there is nothing wrong in being a member of a particular caste/class. No one should hide his class, with a lie.
aanum pennum verthirichu
kaanum vanna minatheyum
kaananam kurikondi mma-
ttanu naam ariyendathu.
Just as you distinguish between the male and female by their physical characteristics, you can identify a person by the qualities inherent in him. This is the way to distinguish the ‘class’ of a person.
arivam azhiyil ninnu
varum ella inathinum
karuvaninam ee neerin
nira than verumayidum.
The waves of the ocean are responsible for all that comes out of it. Similarly Consciousness is the base for all that appear as names and forms.
arivam karuvan cheytha
karuva nina morkkukil
varum ee vannathokkeyum.
Consciousness is a blacksmith, who makes out of his mould the names and forms (different classes). Today’s forms will undergo changes, in his mould to take new shapes. Here the reference is to rebirth. Similarly there is nothing permanent when it comes to caste/class distinctions.
inam ennithine chollu-
inam illengi lillonnu-
minnathe nnulla thuzhiyil.
Since each class of animals have their own characteristics, they are identified as that class or species. This is based on the names and forms given to identify that species. Therefore in the absence of distinguishing forms and names for species, there is nothing like a class/species in this world.
(The Code of Conduct for a wife)
Guru’s this composition is a translation from Thiruvalluvar’s Thirukkural. Thirukkural is a famous Tamil text of social codes that is worshipfully studied even today.
llavalai varavil samam
vyayavum cheyyukil thante
A wife who spends in accordance with her husband’s income, becomes a solace to him.
If the lady of the house does not possess good qualities, every thing is lost. The family will not have good qualities and ultimately the family will deteriorate and get destroyed.
If a house wife has good qualities, what does she lack? If she doesn’t have, what does she have at all? Thus there will be nothing.
If a man acquires a virtuous wife, he has nothing to achieve greater than that.
cholleedil mazha peythidum
A wife who pays her respect to her husband when she wakes up, even before she prays to God, can even bring showers (rains) at her will.
thane rakshichu than prana-
nadhane peni, perine
Only a woman who protects herself (from ill-fame) and looks after her husband without tarnishing his name or image is worth to be called a naari (a woman worth her name).
naarimar kaakkanam swatma-
There is no meaning in protecting women within a house. The ladies should guard themselves, with their virtues (chastity). That is really great (noble).
If a woman gets the opportunity to worship (serve) her husband faithfully, she will get a fame much greater than what is available in the abode of Gods.
peru rekshikkunna nalla,
gouravam thannil vannida
If a man does not have a woman who guards his good name from being tainted, then he will not be able to go out with his head held high (he will lose respect).
A woman’s virtue enhances the fame of the house. If she begets a virtuous son, he becomes an apt adornment to that house.