Friday, June 11, 2010

Significance of Arghyam in Sandhyavandanam

This is my next post in the series 'SandhyAvandanam'. I believe most of my posts on this series have been well received. Over the past year, I gave a few lectures in the functions convened by 'Tamilnadu Brahmin Association' (Thambhraas) on these topics and was happy to see a sea change in the approach of Brahmins towards Sandhyavandanam. The message that Sandhya routine is a rejuvenator, spiritual builder, a personality enhancer and a health invigorator seems to have gone well with my brAhmaNa brothers.

In my first coverage I did not write about Arghyam, a very important kriya in Sandhya Vandanam. Arghyam literally means 'offering'. Like Achamanam, mArjanam, and prAsanam, this is also a water based one. Water is taken in the right palm of the sAdhaka and (slightly) thrown skyward after chanting the gAyatri mantra.This offering is thrice per session. Smartha sandhyAvandanam has one extra arghyam for any errors in the offering time- the kAlAtheetha prAyaschitta arghya pradhAnam.

I have known through many readings that the sandhyAvandanam , though done by the brAhmaNa, is in fact for the welfare of the humanity at large. This kriya, Arghyam, is no different. The sAdhaka's chanting of the gAyatri while holding the water in the palm is a selfless kriya and aimed at the world. The agent to which it is given is Surya (sun).

I will try to give the traditional, philosophical as well as scientific background for Arghyam.

Traditional Understanding

Garuda purANa states that a kind of asuras called mandeha , who originally reside in an island called aruNa are trying to destroy Surya in the day at daybreak and sunset. The arghyam given at these times serves as a weapon to destroy them.Look at the following slokas (1-213-62)

"A Brahmachirin shall bathe only once a day. Having performed the rite of Achamanam,
and invoked the sacred pools therein, one shall take a bath in the river. Thirty
million is the number of the malignant spirits, called Mandehas, who manifest
a desire of devouring the sun at day break. He, who does not attend to his
Sandhya rite at the meetings of the day and night, verily kills the sun, inasmuch
as the libations of consecrated water (offered unto the sun-god in the course of
a SandhyA) tend to consume these monsters (Mandehas) like streams of liquid fire."

Philosophical Significance

The philosophical significance is in the symbolism. The Mandehas are nothing but the man- dehas or mind -
body which are clouding the sun of resplendent atman in us. The gayatri purifies us by this offering so that
the inner light can be perceived by us. Also, the sAdhaks , after the arghyam, say, 'asAvAdityo brahma,
brahmaiva ahamasmi" (the sun is verily the brahman. Brahman is myself). In the adhyAtmic sense, arghyam
is a reminder of the brahman in us and its honouring by the offer of mantra and water.

Scientific Significance

The scientific meaning is even more interesting. Only recently I chanced upon the work of Mr Masaru Emoto
of Japan who did some critical experiments with water.He took a glass of water and spoke 'thank you' to it.
He then freezed the water.

You make me sick
Tibetan Sutra

 Thank you                                                                           Before Prayer
When he magnified the crystallized water, he was amazed to see symmetric patterns.Curious, he then cursed
a glass of water with , " I hate you" and crystallized it.This time the magnified image of crystals were ugly 
and random. He then used Tibetan Sutras and the resulting image was of a beautiful pattern.
See this video on his experiments
It was here that I wondered at the wisdom of our Maharishis. All of our Sandhyavandanam is water based.
We either partake or offer water while uttering sacred mantrams. Imagine the effect of these mantrams on the 
water ! During Arghyam, we chant the greatest of all mantrams- the Gayatri. Though Mr Emoto did not 
experiment with Gayatri mantra, we can guess what will happen. The thought waves generated by the 
Arghya Danam will  penetrate all the three worlds. 
The same explanation will hold for our Achamanam , prokshanam, kalasa pooja, temple teertham etc. 
I also would like to add a speculation here. Like water, all the pancha Bhootas must have memory. In our yagyas, 
Agni is called 'havya vahana' since it carries the havis to the devas.Soon, our scientists will declare that air, 
earth and space has memory ! 
I have heard that Rishis chant Gayatri ceaselessly. They do so for protecting the mankind and for preserving 
the Surya (sun) from extinguishing ! In Dhanur Vidya (Archery and missile warfare), only  the variants of 
Gayatri mantra were used for launching the sastras - right upto the most potent Brahmastra !
This is another great aspect of our Sandhya Vandanam. Arghyam is not a meaningless exercise  but a
profoundly meaningful, spiritual Kriya that is also physically purifying. Arghyam later was adapted into daily 
upasana in Temples and homes. It is one of the 'sodasa' upachara (sixteen honours) to Paramatman.

Monday, June 7, 2010

What Dan Brown did not know

What were the facts left out of the "Da Vinci Code"?

Over the last weekend, I picked up and reread  my copy of Dan Brown's sensational bestseller novel , " Da Vinci Code ". As usual, it was an addiction compulsion syndrome with such books. It just could not be kept down despite the telephone interruptions and my wife's continuous calls  and threats. This is my second reading and this time I made several new conclusions. I assure you that these have a good connection with Bharat and Hinduism that is, Sanatana Dharma.

Many of you might be aware that the book " Da Vinci Code" is the severest yet indictment of Christianity by a Christian himself.  The author Dan Brown has compiled an excellently researched  book and 80 million copies were sold.

For those who haven't read it,  I will recommend reading this book online or download it from this site.

Dan Brown has presented a well argued case of how Christianity in its 'Church first' form has usurped from the Europeans and many natives a far more beautiful, thoughtful, insightful and tolerant religion and replaced  a priest friendly setup that is based on a  doctrine , later to be called the bible. Dan argues through the characters that the new testament is a carefully compiled version of gospels that an emperor thought will be useful for consolidating his territory. And it worked so well that people so well advanced in spiritual pursuit were  turned into sheep. That same strategy, Dan says, is being  followed by the Catholic Church and other churches to brainwash the billion odd Christians worldwide.

Well, these are known facts. My essay is about what Dan Brown did not know (or did not say ?).

The most stunning revelation of the book is about  the religion that  predated the current Christianity. He says that the people practiced a mystic way   which evolved around the male- female axis of creation. He goes on to say that a form of Goddess worship prevailed which had its origins in Judaism. Rites like sun worship , mystic sexual union were all part of that religion. The symbolism of a 'V' shape and the inverted 'V' emerging from Da Vinci's stucco " The last Supper" are clear pointers to the practices of that society.

In one place Dan Brown talks about the 'pagan mantras' inside  temples of the mystic societies. It was precisely here that I started looking at the pagan religion differently. The sun worship, the mantras, the mystical sexual union all rang a familiar tune. I have heard and read it being practiced in India even today- The Tantras !!! In fact, so many are the variations of Tantra in Bharat that comparing them to the acts of the pagan religion is like  an ocean compared to a bucket.

From the snow clad Kashmir to the tropical south, the tantras had held sway sometime before the Bhakti Period to be merged into the vast body of Hinduism later. The tantric depiction of male- female axis is clearly taken from the Tantric Shiva- Shakti concept at the macro (cosmic) level and the Nada- Vindu concept at the micro (individual) level. This has beautifully been portrayed in the Ardhanareeswarar story of Lord Shiva as told in Puranas. Look at the statue symbolizing the male female balance in life in this spell binding depiction of Ardha nareeswara . (Lord with the female half). The left is female.

A secret sect called Priory de Sion believed in a similar theory and has carried forward the original  teachings for close to two millennia. These people were so much prosecuted by the marauding Church and its patron kings that these societies worked underground or in carefully assumed disguises. Dan brown describes the Priory de Sion   as a Goddess worship sect just because they glorified feminism.It is here that he has gone wrong. First, because he did not understand the principles of Tantra.

Above : The symbol of the Free Masons. the V showing the female and the inverted V showing the male. The masons to this day have been very secretive about their mystic practices.

Tantras hold that the Siva (or the primordial Purusha) and Sakti (the primordial energy or Prakriti) are eternal and without beginning or end. It is their interaction that paved the way for the manifest universe.  Note that I am not talking of creation. This is just talk about manifest to unmanifest. Creation is a dirty word in philosophy that makes a teacher  uncomfortable since it tosses the God theory which further paves the way for  'chicken or egg first' question. That was the reason why the secret societies despised the Christian doctrine which said the world was created and even gave a date to it !!

Vedic and Tantric Philosophies hold that time is a cyclic one. But , with a 'created world' theory, Christianity taught it as a linear one. Modern science is in perfect harmony with Vedic teaching that there is no destruction of matter but simply a rearrangement. Also, Eisntein  gave us a theory that the sum total of all energies in the universe at any point is the same at all times. Christianity directly contradicts this with its 'created world' theory. Creation means new energy and new matter without anything to emanate from. Classical situation to ask how God came into being. Chicken or egg first ?   No wonder Christianity was a hated and feared religion of its times

Recently many articles have appeared analyzing the similarity in the names of Abraham  to that of Indian Puranic 'Brahma'. Similarly stunning is the name of Abraham's wife Sara. It resembles the name of Saraswati , the consort of Brahma. Brahma and Saraswati are mythological characters in India but their name sake counterparts are supposedly historic characters in Israel.

Tantra is a post Vedic teaching that has liberally borrowed from Sankhya philosophy. They deviated from the Nidhidhyasana path of Vedism and introduced a new upasana based on symbology. Thus were born the six tantric religions of Saiva, Vaishnava,  Sakta, Saura, Ganapatya and Kaumara. Fundamentally they accepted the 24 principles of Sankhya but added twelve more. Thus the 36 tattvas of Saiva Siddhanta were born. The first Tattva is Shiva and the next is Shakti. It is the interaction between these two that results in the manifestation of the gross universe, as per tantra. It is these two tattvas, that are depicted in the so called pagan religions as the yin and yang or male and female.

At every turn of the novel " Da Vinci Code", as Dan goes on describing the religion of pagans, I could clearly see the stamp of tantras. One may ask, how tantra spread as early as 2000 years before Christ ? The pagan religion of Europe was a sophisticated one handed to them from the Sumerian civilization. The Sumerians spoke a language very closely related to the Dravidian languages like Tamil and Telugu. A Sumerian city called 'Ur' (place) is clearly recorded in History. 'Ur' is still used in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada to denote a village or town. Writers like Srinivasa Iyengar aver that it was the Tamils who travelled along the Konkan coast and established the Sumerian civilization. Since Tamil is a prehistoric language and supposedly spoken across the length and breadth of India, this is a clear possibility.

There is another hitch. Tantras are post Vedic. When the Vedas themselves are dated to 1500 BC by the current indologists, how come the tantras  predate the Sumerian Civilization which flourished in 4000 BC ? This is because of the bogus 'Aryan Invasion Theory" coined, propagated and maintained by a coterie of western indologists. Only now, some honest research has found that Vedas are in fact older than Sumerian period.

Osho, in one of his speeches, said that the 'Vigyana Bhairava Tantra' the oldest existing tantric script, is over 5000 years old. Subbaraya Sastry of Mysore, in his book 'Vaimanika Sastra' which, he said was received by him in a meditative state, says that in Satya Yuga people were adept in   tapas , in Treta yuga they were proficient in Mantras, in Dwapara yuga they were  good in Tantric practices. So that explains how Tantric exercises  were found to be  practiced in far off places at such old dates.

But, what made me sad was that, despite a thorough research, Dan Brown did not give credit to India that is Bharat, the birth place of the religion and  ideology which he proudly eulogised. Not only the Priory de Sion, but also the Masons are living heirs to the mystical tantric religions of pre Christian era. When the politically motivated Church raided their temples and started killing the so called pagan people, they went underground and formed secret societies. That they have continued their existence well into the 21 st century,without any royal patronage  is a proof of their superior doctrines than their aggressor counterpart.

Look at the above pictures. They show a priestly man with the familiar Vedic tilak applied all over his body. This statue is in Egypt and the man is a pyramid designer. Also, the Pharoah is seen with similar Vedic marks. All these go to show that the religion predating Christianity was Vedic Tantrism. It is precisely this that Dan Brown did not know (or did not say).