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parihAram for things started getting stuck

Some people experience obstacles in everything they start and the effort gets
stuck in the middle. This parihAram (measure for remedy) can be of help to them.

shrI MahAganapati is known as vighnaharta[/b] (destroyer of obstacles). When

Shiva started off on his chariot to do [i]saMhAram (end the life) of TripurAsura, the
axle of his chariot broke, causing an obstacle even at the start. At that time shrI
Shiva who is father of MahAganapati, did stotram (worship with hymns) of his son
with the Ganapati SahasranAma Stotram, got his obstacle removed and attained
kAryasiddhi (task accomplishment), informs the Mudkala Purana.

Therefore, doing pArAyaNam of MahAganapati SahasranAma Stotram daily in the

early morning at dawn time for a period of one maNDalam (48 days) will ensure that
all the obstacles are removed and things started will proceed smoothly to their

Men, women and children--all the people--can do this pArAyaNam.

Note: The shivasthalam Acharapakkam near Chingleput, Chennai is traditionally

said to be the place where the axle of Shiva's chariot broke.


parihAram for delay in marriage

When the marriage of the boy or girl gets delayed unduly, for the marriage to take
place early, pArAyaNam of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana can be conducted in vidhivat
(according to rules) as navAham (for nine days).

Alternatively, as mentioned in the UmAsamhita:

kanyArthI cha vaTuH kanyA&pi anurUpa varArthinI

sItA vivAha sargaM tu paThet prAtaH prayatnaH
gavyaM nivedayet kShIraM sadyo dugdhaM shuchi sthale

Boys in order to get a suitable bride and girls to get a suitable groom, should do
pArAyaNam of the seventy-third (sItA vivAha) sargam of the bAlA kANDam of Srimad
Valmiki Ramayanam, everyday in the early morning for a period of one maNDalam
(48 days), doing nivedanam of freshly milked cow's milk, the vivAham is certain to
take place early.

It is uttamam (best) for the boy or girl who is to get married to do this pArAyaNam
themselves daily, after receiving the Srimad Ramayana book from an elder.


parihAram for the childless couple

Some couples remain childless even long after marriage. This parihAram can be of
help to them.

putrakAmastu putrIyAM iShTiM dasharathasya tAm

AgarbhadhAraNaM strINAM pAyasena paThechChatiH
nivedayet pratidinaM ghRutamishraM tu pAyasam
shrAvayechchA&pi patnIM svAM kulyAM vimshati vAsarAn

Thus those who remain childless due to pUrva janma karma (karma accumulated in
earlier births), if they as mentioned in the UmAsamhita: remain pure and do
pArAyaNam of the 15 and 16th sargam (the part covering Dasharatha's
putrakAmeShTi yAgam and pAyasadAnam up to garbha dhAraNam, in the bAlA
kANDam of Srimad Valmiki Ramayanam, everyday for twenty days, doing
nivedanam of ghee pAyasam at the end, with the wife listening to the pArAyaNam in
shraddhA (faith, trust, confidence), there would be putrabhAgyam (gift of a child)
certainly by the kRupA (compassion) of shrI SitaRama.



07 January 2009, 08:37 PM

parihAram for reunion of the separated couple

The marraige that was performed according to the ShAstras in the proper manner
is a powerful one. The mantras recited in the marriage would bring in their results at
proper times. The couple may live separated from each other for some time due to
their fate, but they can be reunited certainly through a parihAram.

Ask your separated daughter to get upadesham of the RatividyA mahAmantra from
a guru who is a qualified upAsaka for it and do japam with the mantra daily. This
mantra is a most powerful one. It will reunite the separated couple early.

In addition, doing pArAyaNam of the Valmiki Ramayanam Sundara KANDam in the

sapta sarga routine (seven sargas a day), would also help in reuniting the separated


parihAram for children to listen to their parents

Although parihAras are there to remove setbacks that happen to us, certain
setbacks happen because we did not do what we needed to. For this, the only
parihAram is to correct ourselves into the right path.

If the son or daughter born to the parents does not listen to their words, the reason
is only the shortfall of puNyam of the parents. The ShAstra says

putre yashasi tIrthe cha narANAM puNya lakShaNam

That a person has done puNyam or pApam is known through the way their children
behave towards him/her, what the others talk about the person and whether there
is no scarcity of water in the place where the person resides.

Even today we witness a son past 50 or 60 years of age listen to the words of his
parents and serve them. This is only the puNyam of his parents.

Therefore, the parihAram is to correct and involve ourselves in acts that generate


parihAram for acute indigestion

If the food taken did not digest, the reason could be that the time of dining and the
quantity and quality of food did not conform to the ShAstras. Digestion can be
improved by adjusting these factors. However, there is a parihAram in the ShAstras
for acute indigestion.

AgastiH agniHrbaDabA&nalashcha bhuktaM mayA&nnaM jarayantvasheSham |

sukha~jcha me tat pariNAma sambhavaM yachChantu arogaM mama chA&stu
dehe ||
--Vishnu Purana

May sage Agastiya, Agni, and the submarine fire BADabAgni effect the digestion of
the food of which I have eaten; may they grant me the happiness which its
conversion into nutriment engenders; and may health ever animate my form!
(translation from

Reciting this mantra and then gently rubbing the navel and the stomach with water
could effect good digestion. We may also teach our children about this habit.




09 January 2009, 10:12 PM

parihAram for problems and fear of foes

Strife and jealousy are common in human life. We should safeguard ourselves from
the forces that exert such negative influences by our puNya (virtuous deeds) and by
the power of mantras.

On the way to Tiruchirapalli from Villupuram (in Tamilnadu), there is this Sri
Lakshmi Narasimhar temple in a village called Parikkal. Having darshan of this god,
offering a garland of tuLasi to him and doing nivedanam with plenty of pAnakam (a
beverage made of jaggery and water) and dadhiyannam (curd rice) and then
distributing them to the poor people there and thus praying to Sri Lakshmi
Narasimhar, the mental fears and the shatru bhayam in vyApAram (fear of foes in
business) would be removed, giving us success in our efforts.


parihAram for children studying well

Generally, the adhipati (lord) of all vidyAs (areas of knowledge) is only Sri LakshmI
HayakgrIva mUrti[/i]. Therefore the children can be asked to recite the following
prArthanA shloka (prayer verse) daily for 108 times.

j~jAnAnandamayaM devaM nirmalas sphaTikAkRutim |

AdhAraM sarvavidyAnAM hayagrIvam upAsmahe ||
(Baraha version)

j~nAnAnandamayaM devaM nirmalas sphaTikAkR^itim |

AdhAraM sarvavidyAnAM hayagrIvam upAsmahe ||
(ITRANS version)
--HayagrIva stotram, Swami Desikan

Additionally, having darshan with family of Sri Lakshmi HayagrIvar having his
temple in the village ChettippuNNiyam en route Chennai-Chingleput would ensure
that the children remain well-read and intelligent.

For a brief description of this temple, check:


parihAram to guard against ailments of the eye

sarvasya gAtrasya shiraH pradhAnam sarvendriyANam nayanam pradhAnam |

SaNNAm rasAnAm lavaNam pradhAnam bhaved pAnIyAn udakam pradhAnam ||
--nIti shataka

"For the entire sharIraM (body), that is among all the organs, shiras (head) is the
pradhAnam (principal) the eye is the pradhAnam among the pancendriyaMs (five
senses); salt is the pradhAnam among the shaDrasa (six tastes); among the pAnaM
(drinks) tIrtha (water) is the pradhAnam."

To preserve the health of our eyes, our ancestors performed gAyatri japam, sUrya
namaskAram and such other acts daily in the early morning at dawn time. Although
we cannot follow such traditions, there are ways to preserve the visual health.

sharyAti~jcha sukanyA~jcha chyavanaM shakramashvinau |

bhuktamAtre smaret yastu chakShustasya na hIyate ||

The eyes and eyesight of those people who remember SUryAti maharshi, pativratA
(devoted to husband) SukanyA devi, Chyavana maharshi who wrote the treatise on
Ayurveda, Devendra, and Ashvini devas immediately after a meal would never be
afflicted with health problems.

If we recite this shloka and daub our eyes with water after every meal, the light of
the eyes will never wane and the eyes would remain healthy for long years.

For Ayurvedic treatment of eye care, here is a link:




11 January 2009, 10:52 PM

Performing puja pompously wearning ornaments

When performing puja, some people (specially women) adorn themselves with a set
of jewelry and conduct the puja with pompously. Is this right?

This is right. Because it is only right to do puja to the deities--only by whose grace
we have come to possess the ornaments--,wearing those ornaments and doing puja
with hands that wear ornaments. Maharshi ParashurAma, who explains the devi
pUja krama (method of conducting Devi Puja) in his work parashurAma kalpa
sUtram says:

yAga mantraM kL^iptA AkalpaH saN^kalpA Akalpo vA (ITRANS)

yAga mantraM kluptA AkalpaH sa~gkalpA Akalpo vA (Baraha)

Akalpa means ornaments such as the ring, necklace, chain, earrings, ear studs and
so on. By the phrase kL^ipTAkalpaH ParashurAma says that the person doing the
puja should wear those ornaments and do the puja in the pujaroom.

Therefore, for all sorts of Amman Pujas such as AmbaaL worship, LalitAdevi
worship, etc.--why even when homas (fire oblations) are conducted--it is only right
to wear clean clothes and a set of ornaments (thereby decorating oneself) and then
perform the puja.

What about people who cannot afford it? It is for them that ParashurAma says
"saN^kalpA Akalpo vA": that is when the poor do the puja to God, they should
mentally imagine wearing the ornaments. Thus it is only right to perform puja in
pomp, and with personal decoration.


Doing abhiShekam to deiva vigrahas with warm water

As the saying goes, "abhiShekapriyaH shivaH", Shiva would be happy with

abhiShekas done to him. The abhiShekam is done to Shiva on ordinary days using
eleven kinds of articles such as fragrant oil, and with different other articles on the
festive days such as the MahashivarAtri. In the same way, in the PerumAL temples,
abhiShekam is done to Vishnu with articles such as milk, curd, fruits, and so on.

In order to remove the oil grime and stains that accrete on the images due to
abhiShekam will articles such as oil, fruit juice and milk, the deities are first given a
bath using cold water, then warm water with bearable warmth and then with cold
water again.


bhaktyA choShNodakaiH shItodakaiH saMsnApayechChivam |

shrI viShNuM kShIra dachyodyaiH...

--Dharma Sindhu, 274

This shloka says that we should with devotion do abhiShekam to Shiva with warm
and cold water and to Vishnu with articles like milk and curd. Warm water is,
however, not an abhiSheka dravya (substance for ablution), only used to remove
the stain and grime on the images. This is the method used in the temples even


Using earthen plates and vessels for nivedanam

The articles such as coconut, betel leaves, fruits and annam (cooked rice) and the
utensils they are contained, for doing nivedanam to deities should be clean.

hairaNyaM rAjataM kAMsyaM tAmraM mRunmayeva cha |

pAlAshaM padmapatraM vA patraM viShNoratipriyam ||

Doing nivedanam in utensils made of gold, silver, bronze and clay, and the leaves
of pAlAsha/purasa (Indian fig) tree and lotus plant would make Sri Mahavishnu
happy says Sri ParashurAma KalpasUtram.




17 January 2009, 08:16 AM

chaturAvRutti tarpaNam

One of the ways of upAsana (worship) of Sri MahAganapati is the chaturAvRutti

tarpaNam. This worship is performed by offering tarpaNam (libation) for 444 times
with the water perfumed by sandal powder and cardamoms, on the bimbaM (image)
of Sri MahAganapati and all other AvaraNa devatas (worshipped deities).

Sri Adisankara says in his book prapanchasAra sangraham that all men and women
without any distinction of caste, creed or religion can do it to seek the blessings of

AyurArogya maishvaryaM balaM puShTirmahAyashAH |

kavitvaM bhukti mukti cha chaturAvRutti tarpaNAt ||

In accordance with the above vachanam (saying), if the chaturAvRutti tarpaNam is

performed daily for a perior of one maNDalam (48 days), by the blessings of Sri
MahAganapati, one can get a long life, good health, dharmic wealth, bodily strength,
lasting eminence, authorial skills, enjoyment of worldly life and the moKSha


Dropping flowers in arpaNam in archanAs

puShpaM patraM phalaM chaiva yathotpatraM tathA&rpayet

When offering puShpaM, patraM, phalaM--flowers, leaves and fruits--in arpaNam in

an archanA by gently throwing the flowers/leaves at the deity's feet, and keeping
the fruits in a plate or bowl, they must be dropped/kept facing upwards in the same
manner they blossom/grow in their plants/trees.

However, when doing archanA with the leaves of the bilvam--bael tree, the leaves
must be dropped so they fall with their face downwards.


Doing puShpAnjali with mantrapuShpam

MantrapuShpam or puShpAnjali is done by dropping flowers at the feet of the deity

with bhaya-bhakti (revertial devotion) at the end of a puja, reciting the mantras one
knows. This is a kind of pujA upachAram done to the deity.

saMshliShTa hastadvaya madhyavartI prasUnapu~jjaH kusumA~jjaliH syAt

The group of flowers in between a pair of joined hands (as they are scooped up) is
known as puShpAnjali. Therefore this offering of mantrapuShpam must be down
with both hands, bringing the palms together. There is no need worry that the left
hand is involved in this act, since it is not improper.




18 January 2009, 11:15 PM

Wearing the sectarian religious mark during puja

When doing puja, japam, homam, or stotra pArAyanam, one should wear his/her
sectarian religious mark on the forehead, such as the vibhUti/tripuNDram,
tirumaN/UrdhvapuNDram/shrIpunDram, shrIchUrNam, kunkumam, gopIchandanam
according to one's kulAchAra (family tradition). Only then will the vaidIka/AnmIka
kAryam (ritual/spiritual endeavour) give the maximum fruits.

yachcha shUnya lalATena tadatyalpa phlaM bhavet |

UrdhvapuNDraM tripuNDraM vA dhArayettu yathAkulam ||

Ritual/spiritual endeavours done without wearing the sectarian religious mark on

the forehead would only get the minimum fruits. Therefore, one should wear the
mark without fail on these occasions.


mUlavar and utsavar: darshanam and archanA

The mUrti (image) in the mUlasthAnam (sanctum sanctorum) has the name
mUlavar, and the panchaloha vigraham (image made of five metals) which is near
the root image is known as utsavar. The daily archanA and abhiSheka will be done
to both the images of the deity.

On the days of brahmotsavam (main festival), since the people who are old,
physically challenged and visionless cannot have svAmi darshanam by coming over
to the temples, the deity itself goes to them by taking a procession round the four
streets around temple as archAvatara utsava mUrti (image for prayer and archanA).


utsavArthaM bahiryAte somAskande visheShataH |

AlayasthaM mUlali~ggaM (mUrtiM) na seveta kadAchana ||
AkRuShya sarvAshcha kalAH somAskandastu li~ggataH |
purANoktotsavArthAya bahiryAti na saMshayaH ||

Thus, the utsavamUrti goes out absorbing all the kalA (shakti/power) of the
mUlavar sitting in the garbhagRuham (sanctum sanctorum), and therefore, at that
time, no darshanam or pradakShiNam (going round) of the mUlavar should be done,
says the Shivayogi SamvAdam. But then as


svayAmbhuvaM chet tali~ggaM vidheyaM tasya pUjanam |

dUrAt namaskRutiH kAryA...
pradakShiNaM cha kAryaM syAt shakyaM chedubhayorapi ||

in temples where the mUlavar is set as a svyambhu mUrti (self-manifested image,

without external installation), even during the times the utsavar has gone out, one
can do darshan of only the mUlavar from a distance. The priest can go near the
mUlavar but he cannot do any archanA.

If it is possible, pradakShiNam of both the utsavar in procession and the mUlavar in

the temple can be done together, but then no independent pradakShiNam to either
the mUlavar or the utsavar should be done.




21 January 2009, 10:44 PM

Resting awhile after Shiva darshanam

When we enter a Shiva temple, the shiva dhUtas (Shiva's messengers) take charge,
stay with us until our darshan is over and when we exit the temple, follow us to the

entrance. Therefore, in order to bid them farewell we need to recite the following
shloka and rest there awhile before we move away.

mahAbali mukhAH sarve shivAj~jA paripAlakAH |

mayA saMprArthitA yUyaM vartadhvaM shivasannidhau ||

"O Shivabhaktas such as MahAbali who await Shiva's orders! Please accede to my
request and you all stay here in the presence of Shiva."

Reciting this shloka, one should sit awhile either in the prAkAram (rampart) or
outside the temple (but not sit on the steps of the temple entrance) and then move
away from the temple.


Receiving the Alaya tIrtha prasAdam

The tIrtha prasAdam (divine gift of water) offered in the Vishnu temples and in
vaidIka pUjas where the puja is done with a kalasham (filled up pot) should be
received with devotion in both hands three times separately and taken three times.

triH pibet trividhaM pApaM tasyehAshu vinashyati

--smRuti kaus-491)

This smRuti vAkyam says that if we take the tIrtha prasAdam with devotion three
times separately and three kinds of sins--kAyikam, vAchikam, mAnasam--done by
our body, words and mind will be removed.


The many vigrahas in Shiva temples

Generally, there must be in Shiva temples five kinds of mUrtis (images) either in
the linga or vigraha form. These have the names: mUla lingam, somAskanda,
chandrasekhara, pradoSha nAyaka, astradeva. Generally, during the times of
brahmotsavam (main festival), the mUrti with Muruga (Skanda) sitting in between
his parents Shiva and Parvati, which goes on procession is known as somAskanda.
Sometimes the mUrti chandrasekhara too comes in procession.

On the days of pradoSham, the pradoSha nAyaka comes in processiion. After the
festival is over, the mUrti that goes to the pond for a bath (tIrthavAri) is called




22 January 2009, 10:56 PM

Direction to face when sitting for a puja

Generally, when doing puja to the images or portraits of Sri MahAviShNu

(PerumAL), Shiva, Salagramam, panchAyatana images, and deities like Murugan
(Skanda) and Ganapati, the images or portraits should face the east, and it is best
for us to sit facing north and do the puja.

However, in the worship of women deities such as ThAyAr (Lakshmi) and Amman
(Parvati), in accordance with the words

pUjya pUjakayormadhye prAchI dik samprakIrtitA

the direction east is one that is in between the pUjya (the deites puja is done to)
and the pUjaka (one who does the puja), so the direction we face for the puja
becomes the east.

Therefore, it is best to do devi puja to Mahalakshmi, AmbaaL or the tiruviLakku

(sacred lamp) puja or do stotra pArAyaNam (reading hymns), sitting directly before
and facing the pUjya (deities).

Thus, when we do puja, if the image, portrait or lamp faces east, we might need to
sit facing west, or if they face north, we would sit facing south and do the puja;
there is nothing in facing south on such occasions.


Why we ring the bell during puja

Don't we receive the sages and other distinguished elders who come to our home
with the sound of mangala vAdya (divine musical instruments)? In the same way,

we receive the deities who come to our puja place ringing the bell, and sometimes
with song and music.

Let us look at the mantra we chant while ringing the bell:

AgamArthaM tu devAnAM gamanArthaM tu rakShasAm |

kurve ghaNTAravaM tatra devatA AhvAna lA~jChanam ||

This mantra says: "I ring the bell which is the mark of receiving divinity, in order to
welcome the Devas, and dispel the RakShasas (who stay invisible at the puja places
and try to cause hurdles to our worship)."

swami Chinmayananta says that the chime of the bell accompanied by divine
music and the vibrations that they set off, specially in temples, helps drown the
cackle of other unnecessary noises, and help us concentrate on the deity, dispelling
the dark forces within and without us. (Ref: Hindu Rituals and Routines: Why Do We
Follow them? downloadable at


Events when the bell is rung in a puja

At the start of any puja, the bell should necessarily be rung to welcome the deities.
Apart from this, the bell should be sounded on certain other events in a puja.

snAne dhUpe tathA dIpe naivedye bhUShaNe tathA |

ghaNTA nAdaM prakurvIta tathA nIrAjane&pi cha ||

--parashurAma kalpa sUtram

Thus the bell should be rung necessarily at the times of

doing abhiSheka to the deity

waving dhUpam (incense)
waving dIpam (lamp)
doing nivedanam (offering) fruits, cooked rice, etc.
adorning the deity with AbharaNa (jewelry, flowers)
the karpUra (h)Arati (waving camphor) called nIrAjanam.




26 January 2009, 12:07 AM

navarAtri pUjA: eight or nine days?

The Durga NavarAtri festival is celebrated from the Asvayuja/Ashvina shukla

prathama (the day after the New Moon Day in Sep/Oct) until the following

mahAnavami for nine days, with puja celebrations on each of the nine tithis (lunar

Because of the time change of the ghaTI/ghaTika/nAzhigais (a Hindu time unit of 24

minutes, thus 60 ghaTIs for a day), the number of days the tithis falling on might be
less or even more than the usual nine days.

In those years when the navarAtri tithis comprise a period of eight days, the
navarAtri pUjA celebrations should be conducted for two tithis on the day of tithi
dvayam (two tithis), thus totalling up to nine days.


kanyA pUjA during the navarAtri festival

One of the rituals that quickly obtains the divine grace of AmbaaL is to do puja to
the kanyA (women) children, considering them as BAla TripuraSundari AmbaaL, and
making those children happy thereby.

The female children made to don the role of AmbaaL is usually between two and
eleven years of age, since a child under two years of age would not know much to
feel happy about the decorations of flowers, clothes, jewelry and garlands put on

Importantly, these children might be from any varNa or caste, with differing fruits
of the puja done to children from the families of the four varNas.

brAhmaNIH sarvakAryArthe jayArthe nRupavaMshajAm |

lAbhArthe vaishya vaMshotthAM sutArthe turIya vaMshajAm
dAruNe chAntya jAtAnAM pUjayet vidhinA naraH |

By doing puja to women children born in the family of these varNas, one can obtain
these fruits:

Vedic brahmins who lead a pure life: sarvakArya siddhi--accomplishment of all that
is sought;
kShatriyas (people in high governmental positions) who guide the people with fair
justice: jayArthe--success with all people in life;
vaishyas who conduct business with honesty: all wealth and profits;
faithful servants: kuTumba vRuddhi - expansion of family with children and
dalits: relief from harsh and persisting diseases, long life and prosperity says the
Dharma Shastra.

Therefore in performing the kanyA pUjA there is no necessity to observe the

distinctions of varNa and caste.


Lighting lamps burning wax

When doing puja to deities, it is best to put a wick in a lamp and light it using
beeswax. This would reduce our ego, remove poverty and avoid bad karmas.

However, it is not proper according to our Veda Shastras to light lamps burning wax
made of fats and chemicals says the book pUjA paddhati. Therefore it is only best to
light lamps burning ghee or oil in the pUjA sannidhis.


With this we complete the sample solutions and regulations of the Hindu SamskAra
as given in the books sandeha nivAraNI authored by Sri Nannilam BrahmashrI
Rajagopala GaNapAThigaL. For further reading of this and other books of the author,
please check this link in his Website:

The postings under this thread have been done with a view to share and spread the
author's knowledge and guidance and the Hindu Dharma, with absolutely no
intention of infringing on his authorial copyright. Members may buy his books and
subscribe to his magazine for further guidance.



26 January 2009, 09:38 AM

Namaste Saideo G and Vajayan G,

Your posts are very understanding, but I have many questions I think I must know.

As Saideo G tells about mantra japam, we must need Guru for mantropdesh, and
write words etc for japam. But what for hearing impaireds how can they understand
the words in voice?:confused:

Is Gayatri chand ok to chat in mind?:dunno:

Please tell me soon



26 January 2009, 11:15 PM

Namaste Pretnath,

If by the phrase 'Gayatri chand' you mean the 'gAyatri mantra', then there are two
opinions among the Hindu gurus as to who and when can the mantra be chanted:
while some gurus say that only the 'dvija's (those who wear the sacred thread) can
chant the mantra, and that only during the 'sandhyA vandanam', there are some
others who say that the mantra is universal and can be chanted at all times. I
usually chant the 'gAyatri mantra' while commuting to shopping, travelling and
other times I find such leisure, and have found the mantra to make things go
smooth for me.

While a guru is necessary for 'mantropadesham', there are certain popular matras
that can be chanted or meditated upon by everyone at all times. Please note that
the correct pronunciation with proper intonation is a must for chanting Samskrta
mantras. Some popular mantras are:

aum shrI gaNeshAya namaH |

aum vakratuNDAya namaH |

aum mahA gaNapataye namaH |

aum gam gaNapataye namaH |

aum namaH shivAya |

aum namo nArAyaNA |

aum namo bhagavate vAsudevAya |
aum shrI kRuShNAya namaH |

shrIrAm jayarAm jayajayarAM |

aum shrI durgAyai namaH |

aum shrI mahAlakShmiyai namaH |
aum shrI sarasvatyai namaH |

hare rAma hare rAma | rAma rAma hare hare ||

hare kRuShNa hare kRuShNa | kRuShNa kRuShNa hare hare ||

aum shrI hanumate namaH |

aum soham |
aum tat tvam asi |
aum aham brahmAsmi |

A popular mantra for 'likhita japam' (chanting by writing) is: shrI rAmajayam



31 January 2009, 07:27 AM

Namaste Saideo G,

Thanks for telling me so much, but I still have some questionsrefered to Handicaps
I have written in the forum-new to sanatan dharm, thread- handicap options, please
answer them you can put your answer in this thread also




01 February 2009, 01:13 AM

How to identify pure vermilion?


'Turmeric being an underground stem, the frequencies of earth in it are far greater
than stems growing above the surface of soil. Vermilion is prepared from turmeric.
Since turmeric and vermilion are offered to deities the worshipper benefits from the
frequencies of earth in them as well as the frequencies of deities. Consequently the
Sattva attribute is enhanced in him. At the same time his ability to tolerate rajatama (distressing) frequencies also increases.' (Divine knowledge received through
the medium of Mrs. Anjali Gadgil, 17.8.2004, 3.46 p.m.)

Pure vermilion is made from pure turmeric, water of soda lime powder and a small
quantity of pure camphor. Though it is made from turmeric, the odour of turmeric is
entirely eliminated and a divine scent takes its place. The odour of turmeric is
evident only when it is sniffed. In contrast the scent of pure vermilion is evident
upto a certain distance. Pure vermilion though possesing humidity is completely dry.
Its touch is ice-cold. Pure vermilion is blood red in colour. It has a high iron content.
By application of this vermilion on the forehead, negative energies are prevented
from entering through the midbrow region (bhrUmadhya).

In the past (Satyayug, Tretayug and Dwaparyug) pure vermilion was available. With
the passing of the eras the Sattva attribute in the vermilion has also deteriorated. In
the Kaliyug people making pure vermilion are very few. (Divine knowledge received
through the medium of Mrs. Kavita Patil, 22.2.2004, 9.30 p.m.)


'What is the importance of the substances used in ritualistic worship?', published by

Sanatan Sanstha.

Currently hard copy of reference book is available in: English, Hindi, Marathi,


Why is milk or sandalwood paste used when making vastra from cotton?

What is the Science behind offering the sacred thread (janave) to deities?

What is the spiritual significance of water from the seven rivers?


How to arrange the components of the ritualistic platter?

Which specific flower should be offered to a specific Goddess?


What is importance of 'offering a sari' for the Goddess?



abhiShekam milk for cooking

Que: Can the abhiShekam milk used for the deity be used for cooking?

Ans: Things offered to God become his property. The nivedanams such as sundal
(cooked nuts and dhal), pAyasam, panchAmRutam are only distributed to the
devotees as prasAdam. In the same way, the abhiShekam milk should only be
distributed as prasAdam, not used for personal cooking.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Jan 25,2009, p28)


pancha yajnas

Que: What are the pancha yajnas?

Ans: They are: deva yajna, pitru yajna, bhUta yajna, manuShya yajna, brahma

Offering samits (twigs) in the agni is deva yajnam.

Offering tarpaNam (water) to the deceased ancestors is pitru yajnam.
Offering food for the living beings is bhUta yajnam.
Offering food to the atithis (guests) who seek our house is manuShya yajna.
Reciting the Vedas is brahma yajnam.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Jan 25,2009, p29)


TirumAngalyam, golden pendant of Hindu marriage

Que: There is no mention of TirumAngalyam in the Vedas anywhere. What is your

opinion about the ritual of wearing the mAngalyam (golden pendant) on the
mangala sUtra (auspicious thread) in a Hindu marriage?

Ans: It is customary to feed a newly born child with a pinch from the mixture of
honey and ghee, rubbing some gold into it. This would help the child to control its
kapham (phlegm) and improve its digestive power.

On the seventh day of birth of the child, people would adorn its hands with golden
bands and legs with silver bands. As the child grows, the golden ornaments it wears
on the body would increase.

The child's ears are also pricked and adorned with studs; a golden thread is wound
round its waist; a pair of kolusu is worn on the legs. And for the girl child as it grows,
she will have a stud on her pricked nose, banbles called vangi on her wrists, and a
golden belt called oddiyANam on her waist.

The dharma shastra exhorts golden ornaments to be worn on the body, specially by
the girl children. The Veda also advises it: tasmAk svarNam hiraNyam dhAryam).
The thAli or mAngalyam is one such golden ornament a girl is adorned with at the
time of her marriage. Since gold is auspicious, it is best to wear the metal exhorted
by the Vedas for wearing on the person.



01 February 2009, 04:05 AM

Self performance of antyeShTi kriyA (last rites)

Que: Since I have no children of my own, can I go to Kashi and myself do my

antyeShTi kriyA?

Ans: Such thinking is wrong. BhIShma PitAmaha was a brahmachAri, so we all offer
tarpaNam to him. For those who have no children, others would give tarpaNam.

It is customary to keep a piNDam for those born in our kulam during the ArAdhanA
of our ancestors. In that way, someone born in your kulam would include you for the
purpose (ye agni dagdhA ye anagni dagdhA). It is customary to say during the
tarpaNam, "I offer this water for those who died as orphans, with no mother, father,
relatives or children."

Therefore, it is not necessary for self performance of antyeShTi kriyA while with no
children is alive. We approach the tIrtha sthalas Gaya and Kashi to satisfy our
ancestors. In those days, people used to spend their last days in Kashi just to let
their death happen in that sacred place. Such people did not themselves do their
own last rites there.

The Dharma Shastra says that the purpose of one having a putra is that he would
offer the piNDam for the parents. If everyone starts doing self performance of the
last rites, then the advice of Dharma Shastra would become meaningless, because
no one would bother about having a son!

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Feb 09,2009, p32)

Garuda Puranam and the sonless parents

Que: It is customary to read Garuda Puranam during the last a person's last rites
are performed, in order that the deceased's AtmA would get shAnti. But then the
Garuda Puranam says that those who had no sons and died would reach a kind of
hell meant for such people. My parents have only us--five daughters, no son. They
are pious and adhere to their dharma. What would be their fate when they are

Ans: Perhaps the statement in the Garuda Puranam that the putra is one who
rescues a person from the hell of put is the cause of your concern. The purpose of

Garuda Puranam is to stress that we should not forget our dues to our deceased
parents, because we are only made of their jIva aNus. Death and the misery that
follows it are inevitable, so without getting oneself lost in the misery, one should
ensure proper performance of the last rites of the deceased, this is the message of
Garuda Puranam. If one gets the feeling that the deceased has been rescued to the
shore by proper performance of last rites, that would give distinction to such duties.

The explanations in the Puranas should be seen in context and the right meaning
obtained. The purpose of Shastras is to emphasize that a putra is desirable for
vaMsha vRuddhi.

For those who have no sons, the Shastras would direct the last rites to be
performed through the daughter's son. If there is no daughter's son, the Shastra
says that the daughter can perform the last rites. Thus the Shastra gives alternate
choices with the emphasis that if no eligible relative is there, a person who is not a
relative can also do the last rites. The Shastras direct that even the orphans should
be given the last rites.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Feb 09,2009, p32)



03 February 2009, 11:24 PM

Reading out Veda mantras in pujas

Que: Can any good accrue by reading out the Veda mantras such as shrI rudram,
puruSha sUktam, shrI sUktam from a book in pujas?

Ans: Veda mantras should not be read out from a book, only recorded in mind.
When this is not possible, there is no compulsion to worship only chanting those

One can do worship by chanting the gAyatri mantra, or aum namo nArAyaNA or
aum namaH shivAya, chanting the divine names. It is enough if the prArthanA is
done with the sincere supplication, 'I can't recite the Vedas as per regulartions. I do
puja thinking of You and You should give me your grace and blessings.'; and the
fruits equivalent to chanting the Vedas could be obtained.

The tradition of a guru reciting the mantras, the students committing it to memory
and then chanting it back has been in vogue from time immemorial. It is today
followed in the Veda PAThaShAlas: teaching Vedas without books.

An eight year old boy gets to learn the Vedas by listening, memorising and
chanting. This practice should not be transgressed. Besides, it is wrong to expect
fruits by going against the rules of the Dharma Shastras!

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Feb 09,2009, p32)


mUlam nirmUlam for a girl?

Que: Is it right to say that the birth star mUlam means nirmUlam (extirpation) for a
girl, specially when Sarasvati, the Goddess of Education was born in that star?

Ans: There is no loss or lack of eligibility for marriage for a girl born in the star
mUlam. In the books written by the Rishis and such astrology experts as
Varahamira, there is no evidence for the saying 'girl in mUlam would be nirmUlam'.
This is perhaps something someone said in the books published later on.

Everyone of the people must be born in one of the 27 nakShatras (asterisms). The
job of the asterisms is to provide the link of time to man (nakShatreNa yuktaH
kAlaH). Their nature does not stick to a person, only the karma of the person.

Therefore, we should not have blind faith in such truthless sayings. There are
people who even confirm that such and such a man lost his father because he
married a girl born in the star mUlam! And there are parents who repose their faith
on charts that invalidate a girl born in mUlam for matrimonial alliance.

Mantresvara in his book phaladIpika explains that a person's lifetime, knowledge,

actions and financial status are all determined when the person is in the mother's
womb." (AyuH karma cha). How can then the lifetime of a related person be affected
by the birth star of a girl who is accepted as a daughter-in-law? Thus when there are
several direct reasons for the loss of life and property, and for the hurdles in efforts,
how can a girl's birth star be blamed for them?

Such sayings as "The girl in BharaNi will rule TaraNi (world)", "The Appan (father) of
Chittirai is on the streets", "Kettai is not suitable for JyeShta" are not acceptable,
and it is our responsibility to save our youth from their influence.

And then, how can Sarasvati Devi have a birth? The Dharma Shastra only says, "Let
the worship of Goddess Sarasvati commence on the day of the mUlam star."
(mUlena AvAhayet devIm).

The Veda has the information, "We should pray to the goddess of MUlam, who is
the god of creation. She must give us active, valiant children; the capability to
conquer our enemies; and prosperity to the people."

The Vedas portray MUlam as only an auspicious star: mUlam prajAm vIravaI.
Therefore there must be no wrong opinion about the star mUlam.

There are many pieces of information in the books of astrology that quote no
evidence of their source. Without adequate examples of proof, we should not follow
their advice.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Dec 27,2009, p32)


dIpam in a coconut cut in half

Que: Is it proper to light a lamp using a coconut cut in half?

Ans: Why a coconut to light a lamp? From the point of view of purity and economy,
only the lamps made of clay are the best. Somebody sometime lit a lamp breaking a
coconut... and others started following it as a custom!

Only that? The sampradAya of lighting a lamp using cut lemons has also taken
roots. Also the prachAram that a lemon lamp is visheSham for this god, a coconut
lamp for this other has also started!

The grammar and rule is also there in the matter of lighting a lamp. The Dharma
Shastra does not permit using anything to light a lamp.

In some villages, the coconut is used as a lamp in the homes where a death occurs.
There are also people who use it as a ghee-filled lamp to worship Amman. Such
things are born out of some belief. It is always best to light lamps as ordained in our
tradition and culture. One can very well ignore the customs that cropped up at later

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Dec 27,2009, p32)




06 February 2009, 10:37 PM

Disposing water from the tarpaNam

Que: It is said that the water collected from offering tarpaNam on days such as
amAvAsya should not be poured to feed any plant including the tuLasi? Whereas the
water collected from the sandhyA vandana japam is poured in a tuLasi pot?

Ans: We normally keep a vessel to collect the tarpaNam water from falling on the
ground. Later the water is poured onto the water bodies (such as the well). Since in
these days people have to take up residence in places where there are no open
water bodies, there is nothing wrong in pouring the tarpaNam water in a clean place
such as under a coconut tree or even the plants or creepers, along with the sesame
seeds; however, it should be ensured that the seeds don't sprout.

It is not necessary to collect the water offered during sandhyA vandanam. The
japam can be done outside the house so the water falls on the ground. It is a new
custom to do the japam inside the house, keeping a vessel to collect the water
offered. It would be childish to seek explanations in the Shastras when we do things
as we like.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Dec 27,2009, p28)


VaDai mAlai to Sri Anjaneya and Sri Kala Bhairava

Que: Why do people adorn Sri Kala Bhairava too with a vaDai mAlai as is usually
done for Sri Anjaneya?

Ans: It is customary to adorn a deity with garlands made of flowers, pearls, gold,
diamond, coral, tuLasi and rudrAkSha. The flower (puShpam) is generally a
substitute for the gold (svarNa puShpam).

Flowers are Nature's wealth, they are soft and fragrant, so wearing them over the
neck of a person or deity in the form of a garland is very meaningful. The puShpa
mAlA was used in the svayamvaram festivities in the olden days. Thus we read in
the Puranas that the princesses Sita, DraupatI, Indumati and Damayanti were
waiting with flowery garlands in their hands for their would be husbands.

Customs are getting transgressed in the course of time and today we find that
several substances such as the vaDai, betel leaves, fruits, coconuts, koNDaikkaDalai
(chickpeas), arugampul (hirati grass) and even currency notes are used to make
garlands and adorn deities. To confirm the new practices, people even resort to the
sthala purANam and stories of devotees who used such garlands and got blessed!

The vaDai mAlai, incidentally, can be offered to any deity as well as Anjaneya.
Distinctions as to the deity or the substance may not be applicable when the divine
services change according to the whims of the devotee.

Our ancestors expressed bhakti and acted with peace, character, culture and
control. We too can follow them in this regard, but then in today's circumstances,

new garlands are made, given prominence, and used in deity worship, whose scale
is changing according to the devotee's whims and wishes.

However, it is better to stop with this, without adding novel thoughts to deity

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Dec 27,2009, p29)


Breaking white pumpkin to ward off dRShTi

Que: Why is only the white pumpkin used to ward off dRShTi (looks with evil

Ans: The banana among the fruits and cotton garments among the clothes are
preferred, along with such other things, for cleanliness and economy.

The white pumpkin is fleshy and juicy, so easily absorbs the mixture of lime and
turmeric, turning it into a blood-red color. This color gives a sense of disguest and
dismay to an onlooker, preventing any thoughts of jealousy that might arise in the
person's mind as he/she looks at the object to which the pumpkin is offered, thus
warding off the dRShTi.

The tradition of killing animals in sacrifice for the deities of protection has been an
ancient one. Since it was established in course of time that killing is against the
dharma of ahiMsA, people started using the white pumpkin as a substitute for the
flesh of the animal and the mixture of lime and turmeric for blood, and thus
simulate an actual blood sacrifice. Thus the white pumpling used to ward off dRShTi
helps us to overcome our cha~jchalam (unsteady mind) and carry on our task.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Nov 27,2009, p10)




07 February 2009, 08:45 PM

samaSTi upanayanam: unsuitable day for one vaTu

Que: The subha muhUrta dinam of one of the vaTus involved in a samaSTi
upanayanam does not conform to his nakShatra. What is the solution?

Ans: The samaSTi upanayanam is not favoured by the Dharma Shastras. It is

strange to seek explanations such as muhUrta for practices introduced newly.

Shastras permit conducting the upanayanam simultaneously for twins, since the
auspicious function time would be the same for both the boys. But for others born at
different times, even if they are brothers, the upanayanam should only be
performed separately at the appropriate time.

The upanayanam is a saMskAra that should be conducted as the boy completes his
eightth year of age, including the ten months he was in the mother's garbham. This
vaibhavam that gives the qualification to carry on the svadharma must be
performed in time.

We strive and obtain the voting rights and the concessions for the senion citizens at
the right time. The same care must be there in conducting the vaibhavams such as
the upanayanam too. Since the upanayanam is a boy's birthright, our carelessness
and procrastination should not deprive the child of his right.

Since you missed the right time of the upanayanam, you seek to do it in samaSTi.
To do something that must be vyaSTi in samaSTi won't give the appropriate fruits. It
is not good to seek the samaSTi showing your inability as a reason.

The compassion that at least for the upanayanam to happen at the right time, let it
be done in samaSTi is not acceptable. This would result in encouraging people who
have no shraddha. And in course of time, all upanayanam ceremonies would merge
in samaSTi.

People who have no shraddha would never realize their mistake. One should not
feel happy about some act of reformation, pointing to what one or two others do.
These days even people with shraddha have come to accept the samaSTi

If the samaSTi is accepted, then one should not worry about the muhUrta dinam.

The vivAha vaibhavam that was conducted for four days in those days has been
reduced to a one day ceremony. It would be no surprise if it gets reduced further to
just one session in course of time. We also conduct the shAnti kalyANam which
should be done at the bridegroom's house, (at the marriage venue or elsewhere) on
the same night. What our ancestors thought was one thing and what happens today
is totally another.

Should the upanayanam be reduced to this state? Think about it.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Nov 27,2009, p12)


Disposing pratimAs that are bhinna

Que: Since the pratimAs of our kula deivam are bhinna we have made alternative
images and worship them. How do we dispose the broken images?

Ans: The pratimAs that are bhinna won't do for the pUja. There is no harm in
removing them. They can be disposed as desired.

If the thought that divinity was present in them till recently troubles you, you might
leave the broken images in water bodies such as a river or pond. Or you can recast
them into other forms and use them. A broken images loses its divinity and
sAnnidhyam. So it can be disposed of in any suitable manner; the way of disposal
only requires firmness of heart.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Nov 27,2009, p13)




09 February 2009, 09:40 PM

Donning kAvi vastram

Que: According to the Dharma Shastras, who can wear the kAvi vastram and on
what occasions?

Ans: The saffron cloth is also known as kAShAyam. This is a cloth that should be
donned by the ascetics. Those who are past worldly desires and hates can wear the
kAvi vastram.

The ascetics are known as mRutita kaShAyaH. Since it suits their nature, the kAvi
vastram is preferred by the ascetics.

The Dharma Shastra, which advises that the people other than the ascetics should
avoid wearing the kAvi vastram, recommends the white cloth for them. The Veda
says that the white-colored dhoti is suitable (vAsaH cha shaumam anyatvA
shuklam). The thread should be drawn from cotton, woven into a cloth and worn
(kArpAsAM vA vikRutam).

The white clothes should be worn during the ArAdhana of the Devas and ancestors,
and when the Dharma Shastra codes are practised. The white color indicates the
satva guNam! For one who does his Dharma Shastra duties wearing red, saffron,
blue or yellow clothes, the Dharma Shastra insists on a parihAram (nIla pItAdi vastra
dhAraNa...). It is not acceptable for the Dharma Shastra to wear saffron clothes in
the worship of God. It would advise us to avoid colors meant for the rajo and tamo

The Ayurveda which says that one can wear clothes of different colors to suit the
season, advises that the saffron cloth can be worn for reasons of sukhAdhAra, but
then it should be thin (taddhArayet uShNakAle).

The red and yellow clothes can be seen in the tantra worships. There, the kAShAya
vastram wouldn't be an appropriate one!

We should not connect the practices we have devised for our own comforts to the
Shastras. If one accepts renunciation, then one can wear the kAvi, not otherwise.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Feb 24,2009, p26)


shaiva itihAsas

Que: The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are connected with VaishaNavam. Are
there any such itihAsas connected with the Shaivam?

Ans: Books such as the Shiva Purana, Linga Purana, Skanda Purana, Agni Purana,
KUrma Purana, the Shiva LIlArNavam, and kAvyas such as the NIlakhaNTa
Vijayashambhu explain the Shaivam sect. Apart from these, there are other books
such as the Tripura Samharam.

Even in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, the shadow of Shaivam could be
seen! You might be knowing the information that Sri Rama worshipped Isha (Shiva)
in Rameswaram and Arjuna not only fought with Shiva but by His grace obtained the

It is the tradition in the Puranas to glorify that form of God which the devotee likes.
This would help the devotee focus his/her mind in the Purana, follow the codes of
conduct it teaches and progress.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Feb 24,2009, p26)


Upadesha regarding deiva upAsana

Que: Should one seek only the Brahmins to get upadesha (instructions) regarding
deiva upAsana (deity worship)?

Ans: It is best to approach the qualified brahmins for mantropadesha connected

with the Vedas. For the mantropadesha that is related to the Tantra Shastras, people
trained in those areas of knowledge can be approached.

A man wrote a commentary for the Saundarya Lahiri. He had explained AmbaaL's
mUla mantra in that book. A debate arose that he had publicized a mantra that
should be hidden and only taught by word of mouth in the guru-shiShya tradition.
He replied 'everyone who reads my commentary with devotion is my disciple, and I
have only given him/her the mantropadesham in writing; so there is no
transgression of the tradition!'

It is best to approach the appropriate person to get upadesha. Dharma Shastras

have entrusted the work of upadesha to the Brahmins.

Arjuna learnt the skills of archery from DroNa. KarNa approached Parashurama. Sri
Krishna approached ShantIbini maharshi. We too can follow them!

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Feb 24,2009, p31)




16 February 2009, 07:23 AM

Photos of the deceased in puja room

Que: I have kept the photos of my deceased father-in-law and mother-in-law near
the portraits of deities. Is this right? Can I place a tilak on the photo of my motherin-law?

Ans: The mother-in-law who should remain in mind, you have offloaded her into a
portrait. How can that be a symbol of devotion? Your idea of thinking of those who
attained divinity by death as equal to the ParamporuL (Brahman) is strange!

In the homes of the wealthy, the photographs of father and mother would be hung
on the wall. In the olden days, the portraits of ancestors were not hung on the walls
on par with those of the deities. This tradition cropped up in the middle. The
photograph of your mother-in-law kept in the puja room might help show the
respect you have for her to the others, only that much!

Devotion is one that should be within us. It is not necessary that others should
come to know it. We should keep in our mind the people who lived with us and
passed away. We should not shut them off from mind and hang them as just

If it is your wish to hang a picture, hang it in the wall of some other room, not along
with the portraits of deities.

Regard God as above everything, only that is the good tradition!

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Dec 12,2008, p35)


Worshipping Shiva with tuLasi leaves

Que: Can Shiva PerumAn be worshipped with the tuLasi (basil) leaves?

Ans: 'With devotion, if a leaf, a flower, a fruit or water is offered, I shall accept it',
says Sri KrishNa ParamAtma. He does not specify a leaf or plant; has left it to the
wish of the devotees!

Only those who have not attained pUraNatvam (completion) would have love and
hate. God is paripUraNa (perfect), so you can choose the articles you wish to offer
Him. Thus, you can offer the tuLasi leaves to Shiva PerumAn.

Puranas would mention that such and such specific leaf is suitable for the image of
such and such deity. For example, bilva leaves are special for Shiva; tuLasi for
Narayana. This is only to highlight the speciality of the leaf, so we shouldn't think
that the other leaf is not suitable for this god.

The Puranas would mention that 20 leaves are special for PiLLaiyAr (Ganapati).
Among them, the mango leaf is one. So, do we worship him daily with mango leaves
in practice?

There is another information that for the Isha (Shiva), the tAzhampU (screw pine
flower) is not suitable. There would be a story for that. At the same time, it would be
mentioned that for AmbaaL who is Isha's Devi, the screw pine flower can be offered.
This would raise the question, 'Can the image of ArdhanArIshvara be worshipped
with the screw pine flowers?'! Shiva who accepts Uma with screw pine flowers on
her hair, how can he remain without breathing in the fragrance of the screw pine

Therefore, it is useless to analyze as to the articles that are right or not for the
images of the deities.

ShabarI offered the fruits that she tasted and found tasty to Sri Rama. KaNNappar
the hunter, offered only the food that he liked to Shiva. And AndAL offered the same
garland that she wore to PerumAL!

The tuLasi has a special fragrance which is suitable for the body and mind. One can
offer an article that is (spiritually) suitable to him to the image of his favourite deity.
The fragrant flowers and the leaves are creations of God. What he created, we may
offer to Him and be happy.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Dec 12,2008, p35)


Offering mAngalyam for divine svarNAbhiShekam

Que: An abhiShekam for Goddess Gurga was performed in a temple. When the
gurukkaL (priest) told, "I am going to perform a svarNAbhiShekam. Those who are
willing may offer their gold ornaments." A young woman gave her tirumAngalyam
with its koDi (thick chain). When the abhiShekam was over, the priest returned the
jewels, and she wore it back on her neck. Is this right?

Ans: It is wrong that the young woman gave her tirumAngalyam, removing it from
her neck. It is also wrong that the priest accepted and used it. Owing to their
ignorance, these two people have perhaps introduced a new custom!

The tirumAngalyam should always remain hanging on the neck for the sumangalis.
'AmbaaL's tirumAngalyam is visible like a line, sticking to her neck!' says Adi
Sankara. The elders would bless, "Should live long with your tirumAngalyam

The priest should have asked for another ornament when the tirumAngalyam was
offered. And that woman too should have given some other ornament of hers.

A king named Raghu who was the ancestral light of the Surya vaMsha, conducted a
yajna. The niyati (obligation) was that the king should offer in the fire sacrifice all
that he had earned and saved as his belongings. But then Raghu did not offer his
siMhAsana (throne) and the white chAmaram (hand fan). 'They are things that
preserve his royal individuality and lineage', says poet Kalidasa in his
RaghuvaMsham. In the same way, the tirumAngalyam is the individual identity for
the sumangalis, and the niyati is that it should never be offered. If the pUNUl
(sacred thread) is taken off, the eligibility to chant the Vedas would be lost. Even if it
is a well worn out thread, only after wearing a new thread (with the required
mantras) that the old thread be removed.

The lawyer is known only by his black coat. During the British reign, a policeman
would be considered to have lost his job if his hat was seized away from him!

AmbaaL has a name 'sarvamangaLA'. Only the tirumAngalyam that the Isha (Shiva)
tied to her neck gives her this distinction. In the same way, only a woman's
tirumAngalyam tied to her neck by her husband makes her a sumangali. The
tirumAngalyam indicates that an ordinary woman has been raised to the status of a
mangaLa nAyaki. So, the tirumAngalyam should not be seen as just an ornament.
Gold will heighten the effect of the abhiShekam water, but the tirumAngalyam is not
needed for that purpose.

To distinguish the bride, her husband (during the marriage ceremony) would pour
some gold-added water through a yoke on her head and thus symbolically sanctify
her bath. Women wear gold on their ears and nose, and this gold gets added to
water during their bath and sanctify it. Men too wear a gold kaDukkan on their ears
and a ring on their finger for this purpose. The Dharma Shastra advises (the kartA)
to wear a golden pavitram (ring) and perform the rituals.

Therefore, our Dharma Shastras do not advise wearing gold ornaments as an

indicator of wealth or for the others to feel happy looking at them. It has the
purpose of purification and sanctification of our dhArmic activities. Ancestral
qualities and manners are replete with meaning.

When there are so many ways to offer and do service to God, the idea of giving the
tirumAngalyam should never crop up.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Dec 12,2008, p37)




19 February 2009, 11:09 PM

Rig, Yajur upAkarma

Que: What is meant by the terms Rig upAkarma, Yajur upAkarma?

Ans: Rig stands for the Rig Veda, Yajur for the Yajur Veda. 'upAkarma' refers to the
learning of the Vedas. This includes reading out the Vedas so as to renew it.

There is a part called 'vedArambha' in the 'upAkarma'. This refers to the

commencement of Vedas for those who learn them, and the renewal of the Vedas
(by reciting it) for those who already have learnt them. It is not enough to just have
learnt Vedas. They must be chanted daily and renewed.

Vedas should always remain with its fresh their bloom and lustre. So 'upAkarma' is
the ritual that Vedas insist on for this purpose. Vedas are to be preserved orally.

Therefore it is stressed that on the sacred day of the 'upAkarma', the disciple should
repeat chanting of the Vedas after his guru.

It is not a distinction to record in writing the Vedic sounds that should be recorded
in mind. With a written copy, the Vedas would vanish when the book is worn out; so
the Vedic vidyA should be preserved in the brain.

The oral education of Vedas helps to preserve its evergreen state. If Vedic teaching
had been from books, it would have lost its prominence gradually like the other
areas of education. Thus 'upAkarma' is the festival meant to save the Vedas which
are the basis of our culture and tradition.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Nov 12,2008, p29)


pitRu kArya, shrAddham for the lost people

Que: A man left his family 40 years ago and it is not known if he is still alive. How
do we perform his 'pitRu kArya and shrAddham' for him, and how do we compute
the 'tithi' for this purpose?

Ans: The Dharma Shastra says that if a person who left home is alive is not known
to be alive after twelve years, his last rites should be performed, assuming him to
be dead. In the (unlikely) event of his returning alive after such a long time, the
Shastra says that he can be considered as newly born and admitted after
performing the rites such as the 'jAtakarma'.

It we leave out performing karma for a long lost person with the bother that he
might perhaps be still alive, it could result in deficiency in 'kAryas' such as 'pitRu
shrAddham' and 'nAndI shrAddham'. How is this?

If the lost person is really dead contrary to our expectation, he would remain only
with the 'preta sharIram' until the last rites due to him are performed! He cannot be
called for the 'shrAddha kAryas' done to our ancestors. And if he cannot be called,
then the 'shrAddham' rites cannot performed to his ancestors such as his father and
grandfather, by their descendants, resulting in unnecessary mental discomfiture.
And then, he cannot be included in the rites such as the 'nAndI shrAddham' done at
the time of a wedding; and there will be no fruits if we pretend to include him in
such rites.

The main requirement for 'shrAddham' is 'shraddhA', which would be spoiled by

unnecessary doubts rising in us.

If the son of a long lost father does not perform 'shrAddham' for his father, then
after he is gone, his own son cannot include the name of the paternal grandfather in
the 'shrAddham' done to him, thus creating deficiency in the 'shrAddham'.
Therefore, it is best to do the karma as ordained.

In these circumstances, either the 'kRuShNa pakSha ekAdashi' or the 'amAvAsyA'

may be considered as the 'tithi' in the rites performed to a long lost person.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Nov 12,2008, p29)


Wife doing charity without her husband's knowledge

Que: Can a wife carry on the acts of charity without her husband's knowledge?

Ans: 'Practice the dharma' ('dharmaM chara') says the Vedas. 'Desire to practice
dharma' said AvvyaiyAr. When a person is residing with other people such as the
husband, wife, and son, it is obligatory to include them in the acts of dharma. Vedas
insist on first giving away some food before one starts eating it. For peace in life,
dharma and the faith in dharma are necessary.

Trying to make the husband understand this and have faith in dharma and then
doing charity with his knowledge is always best.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Nov 12,2008, p33)




24 February 2009, 09:27 PM

Garlic and onion in food

Que: Garlic and onion represent cursed Rishis, they should not be included in our
food, specially on the New Moon day, says my grandmother. Is there any puranic
basis for this?

Ans: Garlic and onion are good for health. The onion has a special name, 'rasonam'.
In sustaining the bodily health, the onion is praised to be the king. ('nikila rasAyana
rAjogandhe nokreNa lashuna iva').

The onion is used as the root and constituent of several drugs. The Ayurveda says
that it is used as remedy for several ailments. So the onion may be used to sustain

health. But then since they create some hurdles in our daily spiritual efforts, they
should be avoided, says the Dharma Shastra.

Since the 'tAmasa' food affects our mind, it is likely to lessen the 'shraddhA' in our
activities. This could induce laziness, raise anger and craving levels and spoil our
spiritual progress. Since the onion and garlic have this 'tAmasa guNa', the Dharma
Shastra recommends avoiding them in our food. But then the poeple who are
accustomed to using them can't give up easily, so the practice arose to avoid them
at least on the New Moon day.

People who chant the Vedas and handle the 'shAstra prayogas' should avoid the
onion and garlic so their mental flow is not affected. Brahmins of Bengal would
avoid the onion. People are there who are experts in the 'tarka shAstra' and the
'yoga shAstra' (scriptures of logic and yoga). Sri Krishna also advises us to avoid
'tAmasa' food.

Good and bad are mixed in everything. It is not proper to exaggerate the good and
speak ill of the bad! It is better to be cautious about the bad and avoid them. It is
difficult to avoid the onion that holds a primary place in our food; but easy to cut
down the occasions when they are used.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Oct 28,2008, p74)


Clapping hands to worship Sri ChaNDikeshvara

Que: It is the custom to clap hands to wake up Sri ChaNDikeshvara and worship
him. But some people say this is wrong?

Ans: You don't have to change the custom, continue it. VishvAmitra Rishi wakes up
Rama-LakshmaNA from their sleep calling, "Come on, get up! It's dawn already."

We wake up EzhumalaiyAn (Sri Venkateshvara) singing SuprabhAtam to him. In the

traditional bhajans it is customary to put God to sleep and wake him up in the
morning. In the olden days, there were assistants in the palace whose job was to
wake up the king by singing 'stutis' to him. It is among the services of the 'bhaktAs'
to sing a song in a specific 'rAgA' to put God to sleep and in another 'rAgA' to wake
him up in the morning.

Moreover, where is sleep for Sri ChanNDikeshvara who is always immersed in

'dhyAnam' (meditation)? He is adored with the words "chaNDikesha mahAbhAga
shiva dhyAna parAyaNa" ("O Lord ChaNDikeshvara, you are greatly blessed,
because you are the one who always keep IshA in your meditation and are
immersed in it!"). We clap our hands to seek his attention. There are minds which
do not take this as an 'apachAram' (inappropriate act).

Can we say that the announcement, "For the kind attention of the passengers...
The train number..." disturbs the sleep of a person?

It is the devotee's nature to call Swami when he/she is in trouble. Can we say that
we won't get any problems during the deity's time of sleep? (Suppose) A snake is
holding a frog in its mouth trying to swallow it. If we try to rescue the frog, we incur
the sin of depriving the snake of its food. If we don't we incur the sin of not having
rescued the frog! In the same way, if we clap hands then ChaNDikeshvara's sleep
will be disturbed; if we don't, his attention won't be directed towards us. Therefore,
we can follow the act of our elders who clapped hands, as there is nothing wrong in

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Oct 28,2008, p77)

Another point of view about this act quotes the proverb 'Sivan sotthu kula nAsham'
('(Taking) Shiva's property would ruin the family'). Thus we indicate to Sri
ChaNDikeshvara who is Shiva's guarding deity that we have not taking even an iota
of property from the ShivA temple by clapping hands so even the sand particles that
might have stuck to our hands would fall down.


'shraddhA dinam' falling on the 'ekAdashi tithi'

Que: If the 'shraddhA dinam' falls on the 'ekAdashi tithi', what are the 'AhAra
niyamas' of the 'shraddhA brAhmaNa' as well as the person who observes the

Ans: If the 'shrAddha' falls on the 'ekAdashi tithi', only the 'shrAddha' should be
practised. To the person who observes the 'vrata' on all the 'ekAdashi' days, this
would obviate the intervention by the 'shrAddha' and fetch the 'ekAdashi vrata
phala'. This is the practice of the 'smArtas'.

'Smritis' are compilations of rules and regulations based on Vedic principles.

'SmArtas' are those who follow the 'smritis'. They are people who don't involve
themselves with the religious books of the latter days and stand firm on the
principles of Sanatana Dharma. They would give preference to the 'pitru kAryam'
when it happens to coincide with the 'deva kAryam'.

The 'ekAdashi vratam' falls on several occasions, whereas the 'shrAddha' occurs
only once in a year. So there is always chance to observe 'vratam' on other
'ekAdashi' days and avoid it on the day it concides with 'shrAddha'. If preference is
given to the 'ekAdashi vratam' on that day, it would interfere with the 'shrAddha'.

The person doing the 'shrAddha' and the person who conducts it, can take food
only once on that day; they should avoid eating for the second time.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Oct 28,2008, p76)




25 February 2009, 10:25 PM

'naraka chaturdashI' and Deepavali

Que: What is the relationship between the 'naraka chaturdashI' and Deepavali?

Ans: The 'chaturthI' (fourteenth day) of the month of 'AshvinaH/Aippasi' (Oct-Nov)

has a distinction. It is known as the 'naraka chaturdashI'. At early morning on that
day, one should have a 'mangaLa snAnam' in the manner of an oil bath. Goddess
Lakshmi in the oil and Ganga in the water would be resident on that day. Our
Dharma Shastra says that an oil bath on this day removes poverty, brings in purity.

The Dharma Shastra that doesn't accept an early morning oil bath on ordinary
days, makes it obligatory on this day.

After the bath, Lord Yama should be worshipped. It is enough to give 'arghyam'
(offering water) to him fourteen times, speaking out his fourteen names. The term
'chaturdashI' means fourteen. On that day, Chandra (moon) would be in his
fourteenth 'kalA' (one-sixteenth part), after having waned for thirteen days at one
'kalA' per day (from the earlier new moon day). For the 'ArAdhana' of our deceased
ancestors, we would determine the 'shrAddha' day based on Chandra's 'kalA'.
Chandra and Yama are connected with our ancestors. It is customary to included
them when worshipping our deceased ancestors ("somaH pitRumAn yamo

The 'jnAnendriyas' are five; 'karmendriyas' five; adding 'manas, buddhi, chitta,
ahaMkAra' to them makes it fourteen. Man is distinguished by these fourteen

The fourteenth 'kalA' of Chandra is the time of bath; Yama appears

in fourteen forms; and on the early morning of the day of 'chaturdashI' of the
'AshvinaH/Aippasi' month, Lakshmi in the oil and Ganga in the water, Yamadharma
along with them, would be present. Thus it is the special time when these three
come together.

The term 'narakam' means afflictions. The bath and the worship of Yama would give
relief from the afflictions. Yama is one who removes the Atma that is connected with
the fourteen qualities and puts a fullstop to the functions of the body. The Ayur Veda
says that life is the continuation of the connection between the body, senses, mind
and the soul.

Wealth is required for our life to flourish; for this is required Lakshmi's grace. To
enjoy life a pure mind is necessary, for which Ganga's grace is required. To get relief
from the afflictions of the 'narakam', one should on this day gift 'dIpam' (lamp) as
gift and include the poor in Yama worship and light the lamp to Yama wearing new
clothes. This would help to get a bright life and remove the ignorance. The Dharma
Shastra says that lamps should be lit in a row for relief from the afflictions of the
'narakam'. ("narakAya pradAta vyo dIpaH...")

On the day of the 'naraka chaturdashI', Sri Krishna destroyed Narakasura who was
tormenting people. Since his destruction happened on that day, it is confirmed that
the 'naraka chaturdashI' bath would remove sufferings. It was a day when
Narakasura was relieved of his own sufferings and attained MokSha. Thus the
Shastra is also practised on that day when the afflictions gave way to the swell of

Our ancestors would say "shAstrAya cha sukhAya cha". The 'chaturdashI' bath of
Sanatana Dharma, joining with the 'NarakAsura vatam' has a double distinction.
Deepavali also serves as the farewell festivity of our deceased ancestors who come
for a walk to the gross world from their world during the 'mahAlaya pakSha'. A torch

should be lit to show them the way on that day. The Brahma Purana would say that
lamps should shine in all splendour in the houses and temples.

Involvement in action and devotion to God, the two requirements of man, is

practised on the 'naraka chaturdashI' day. We should thus celebrate with happiness
the Deepavali which is also linked to the Shastra. The distinctive honour of that
festival is that it merges worldliness with spirituality.

(Answer by Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Oct 28,2008, p75)

The fourteen names of Yama are:
'dharmarAja'.....- King of Dharma
'pitRupati'......- Lord of the Fathers
'samavartin'.....- Impartial Judge
'paretarAj'......- King of the Dead
'kRutAnta'.......- Ender
'yamunA bhrAtRu'.- Brother of YamunA
'samAna'.........- Destroyer
'yamarAj'........- King of Yamas
'yama'...........- Yama
'kAla'...........- Destructive Time
'daNDa dhAra'....- Club Bearer
'shraddhadeva'...- God of Rites for Deceased Relatives
'vaivasvata'.....- Son of Vivasvat
'Antaka'.........- The End

(with their equivalent names in Buddhism, from the book Untying the Knots in




05 March 2009, 10:32 PM

More on doing namaskAram

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.1)

NamaskAram should not be done to people who are lying down, doing 'japam' or
wearing a wet cloth.

'abhivAdanam' should not be recited when doing 'namaskAram' to women, except

one's mother.

Similarly, for the 'sannyAsis' and in an assembly of people, only 'namaskAram'

with no 'abhivAdanam' should be done.

NamaskAram should not be done to people in temples.


Wearing vibhUti
(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.4)

Generally, the 'vibhUti' should be worn, making it into a paste with water. After
wearing it this way, the palms should not be washed; instead the vibhUti remaining
in them should be smeared onto the hands and legs.

When 'vibhUti' is given as 'prasAdam' it should be worn dry. The 'prasAdam

vibhUti' should not be mixed with the normal 'vibhUti' we keep at home.

mantra to remember when wearing 'vibhUti':

(from the Tamil book 'mantras and their mahima', source of this mantra?)

bhAsanAt bhasitam proktam bhasma kalmaSha bakShaNAt |

bhUtiH bhUtikarIpuMsAM rakShA rakShAkarI shubhA ||

From the book 'Hindu Rituals and Routines Why do we follow them?'--Swami

The word bhasma means, "that by which our sins are destroyed and the Lord is
remembered." 'Bha' implied 'bhartsanam' ("to destroy") and 'sma' implies
'smaranam' ("to remember"). The application of bhasma therefore signifies
destruction of the evil and remembrance of the divine. Bhasma is called 'vibhUti'
(which means "glory") as it gives glory to one who applies it and raksha (which
means a source of protection) as it protects the wearer from ill health and evil, by
purifying him or her.

Bhasma is specially associated with Lord Shiva who applies it all over His body.
Shiva devotes apply bhasma as a tripundra. When applied with a red spot at the
center, the mark symbolizes Shiva-Shakti (the unity of energy and matter that
creates the entire seen and unseen universe).

Tryambakam yajaamahe
Sugandhim pushtivardhanam
Urvaa rukamiva bhandhanaan
Mrytyor muksheeyamaa amrutaat

"We worship the three-eyed Lord Shiva who nourishes and spread fragrance in our
lives. May He free us from the shackles of sorrow, change and death effortlessly,
like the fall of a rip brinjal from its stem."


Wet-grinding the sandal paste

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.7)

After the sandal paste is ground, it should be removed from the grinding stone
without using the thumb.

After grinding, the stone and the sandal stub should be kept away separately, not
as the stub on the stone.

During puja, women should not wet-grind the sandal paste.




06 March 2009, 08:14 PM

Doing archana in Tamil in temples

Que: Can Tamil 'stotras' be recited in the temple 'archanas'?

Ans: Yes, they can be, and God won't say no for them. But then in temples built
according to the 'Agama shAstras' we don't have the 'adhikAram' (authority) to
change the language of worship from Sanskrit. In the same way, who are we do
introduce a language change in the 'vaidIka karmas'? Wherever the 'archanas' don't
involve 'vaidIka karmas' and the 'archanas' are not done in 'Agama shAstra'
temples, they can be done in Tamil.
(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.13)


Women doing the 'go pUja'

Que: Can women do puja to the cows?

Ans: Yes, they can do. The cow's wealth is limitless. People of all the 'varNas' can do
this 'go pUja' for which only devotion and faith are necessary. Doing 'go pUja' would

remove the mental sufferings and give all the 'aishvaryas' (wealth). It is also the
'aitihyam' (traditional instruction) that the 'aMsa' (share) of all the devas are living
in the cow. (Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.13)


Puja in Office

Que: Please advise as to the portraits of the Gods I need to hang and the way to
worship them in the business company I am running.

Ans: As far as the portraints are concerned, you may use the pictures of your 'iShTa
devatas' (preferred deities) and specificially those of Ganapati and Mahalakshmi.

'vigrahas' (material images) are not needed in offices. If any 'yantra' has been
received through authorized elders, it might be kept.

Light a lamp daily and adorn the portraits with flowers. Ensure that women do not
go near them during their period days. It would be 'visheSham' (special) to do
weekly 'archana' on Fridays done by a 'shAstry' (priest).




08 March 2009, 11:58 PM

National Anthem
(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.20)

Que: Today, the 'jana gaNa mana' and the 'vande mAtaram' are our national
anthems. Was there any such national anthem for our ancient country?

Ans: There is a beautiful national anthem in the Yajur Veda:

A brahman brAhmaNo brahmavarchasI jAyatAmA rAShTre rAjanyaH

shUra iShavayo&ativyAdhI mahAratho jAyatAM dogdhrI dhenurvADhAnaDvAnAshuH
saptiH purandhiryoShA jiShNU ratheShThAH sabheyo yuvAsya yajamAnasya vIro
jAyatAM nikAme nikAme naH
parjanyo varShatu phalavatyo na AShadhayaH pachyantAM yojakShemo naH
kalpatAm ||
--Yajur Veda, 22.22

"O Brahman! Let there be born in the kingdom 'brAhmaNas' with 'brahmatejas'
(divine lustre) who are well versed in the Vedas; let there be born the 'RAjanya',
heroic, skilled kings, archers and mighty warriors; cows giving abundant milk; oxen
good at carrying; the swift coursers; industrious, cultural women. May 'Parjana' send
seasonal rains; may our fruit-bearing plants and trees ripen; may the
'yogakShemam' (spiritual and prosperous well-being) of our people increase


SamskAras for milestones in age

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.28)

Que: When should the 'ShaShTiapta pUrti' (60th anniversary) be done: on

commencement or completion of the 60th year of age? What are the other 'shAntis'
done in accordance with the 'janma nakShatra'?

Ans: On the month and 'nakShatra' of the first year after a child is born, the
'aptapUrti Ayush homam' should be performed. Here is a list of other 'shAntis':

'bhIma shAnti' ... Beginning of the 55th year of age

'ugra ratha shAnti' ... Beginning of the 60th year of age
'ShaShTiapta pUrti' ... Beginning of the 61st year of age
'bhImaratha shAnti' ... Beginning of the 70th year of age
'eka shAnti' ... Beginning of the 72nd year of age
'prapautra shAnti' ... Birth of a great-grandson (the son of a son's son)
'satAbhiShekam' ... On completion of 80 years and 8 months of age
'pUrNAbhiShekam' ... In the 100 years of age

Of these 'samskAras', the 'ShaShTiapta pUrti, bhImaratha shAnti and

satAbhiShekam' are customary and widespread. During the time of these 'shAnti
prayogas', the 'mahA prAyachitta vaidIka kAryam' known as 'shrIrudra ekAdashani'
(chanting 'shrIrudram' eleven times with Vedic rites) is also performed along with
the other rites. (


'vaidhyanAtha dikShatIyam'
(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.31)

Que: Wish to know something about the 'vaidhyanAtha dikShatIyam' book...

Ans: Sri VaidhyanAtha DIkShatar, who was born around 350 years ago at the village
Kandramanickam in the Thanjavur district, compiled the Dharma Shastra details
given by our SUtrakAra Rishis into 6 cantos in a book titled 'vaidhyanAtha

This book has been accepted as the 'book of pramANas' (standard reference) by
our pundits. This compilation is also known as 'Smriti MuktAbalam'. The six cantos
that comprise the book are:

1. varNAshrama dharma kANDam 2. Ahnika kANDam 3. Asaucha kANDam

4. shrAddha kANDam 5. prAyachitta kANDam 6. tithi nirNaya kAnDam

(Note: A set of dharma shastra booklets in Tamil in the pdf format can be
downloaded from the Yahoo group Vaideekam at The publication says that these booklets
are from the book published by R.Muthusamy Ayyar in 1937, possibly based on the
'vaidhyanAtha dikShatIyam' as the canto names indicate.--sd)




12 March 2009, 10:12 AM

duHkha vichAraNa: visiting for personal condolence

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.32)

Que: Any rules about visiting the home of a deceased person for offering personal

Ans: Yes, 'duHkha vichAraNa' has certain 'niyamas'. Some of them might be
different due to the 'deshAchAras' (local practices), but certain others should be
observed without fail.

One should avoid customary personal beautifications when seeking to offer

personal condolence.

One should not come in tactile contact with the 'kartA' (doer) of the deceased
person who is in wet clothes, ready to commence the last rites.

If one needs to get back immediately, it should be done when the 'sharIram' (dead
body) is in the house and the last rites have not started. Otherwise, one should
leave the place only after the body leaves the house for the creation ground. It is
not proper to leave the house in the middle of the rites.

For ten days, no food or drink should be taken from the house of the deceased
because of the ceremonial impurity.

The 'duHkha vichAraNa' may be done on any of the first ten days, except the
ninth. When a wife is sought to be offered condolences, days of Tuesday and Friday
should be avoided.

It is best to visit on the day of the death and offer any help needed. Such help
should not however be a hindrance to the rites or people or be a display of personal
knowledge about the 'vaidIka' last rites performed. Instead, where it is necessary,
advice can be offered to the 'kartA' in a subtle manner to ensure that the last rites
are performed according to the 'shAstras'.


Alaya pradakShiNam
(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.34)

Que: Is there any 'krama' (custom, rule) when a husband and wife do
'pradakShiNam' of a temple, as to who should lead and who should follow?

Ans: Yes, there is. While doing 'Alaya pradakShiNam' as 'dampati' (husband-wife),
the husband should lead and the wife should follow him. This 'krama' is to be
followed in the 'pradakShiNas' done in 'veda pArAyaNas' and 'homas'.


mana saMchalam (mind in agitation)

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.35)

Que: My mind is always agitated and waves about. What can I do to mitigate my
'mana saMchalam'?

Ans: If you have the 'abhyAsam' (practice of fluent chanting), you may chant the
VishNu SahasranAmam daily. Or you may do the 'likhita japam' (litany by writing) of
writing 'Sri Ramajayam' at least 108 times a day. Whenever you get time, you may

get into the habit of visiting the nearby SubramaNya Swami temple. Everything will
be fine eventually.




13 March 2009, 09:31 PM

homa mudrAs
(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.36)

Que: When doing homam, the fingers are kept differently for holding different
sacrificial items. Any niyama for this?

Ans: They finger intertwinings are known as mudrAs. A specific homa mudrA
depends on the dravya (substance) used in the fire sacrifice. There are three kinds
of homa mudrAs:

When sesame or ghee is placed in the fire, the mRugI mudrA is employed. This
mudrA comprises raising the index and little fingers and gathering the other three
at their tips.

When samidh (twigs of firewood) is placed in the fire, the haMsI mudrA is
employed. This mudrA comprises collecting all the fingers at the tips, leaving out
the little finger.

When charu (annam) is dropped in the fire, the varAhI mudrA is employed. This is
sukhari (or is it shukari) mudrA. This mudrA comprises joining all the fingers at their


pitRu kArya, shrAddham: bahiShTAt

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.38)

Que: We follow the Yajur Veda. If on the day of shrAddham, the wife is bahiShTAt
('out of doors'), can the husband proceed with the shrAddham?

Ans: There is no restriction, and the husband can very well proceed with the
shrAddham and do it as pArvaNam (with homam).


Spiritual uses of tulasI

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.37)

Que: Some details about the spiritual uses of tulasI?

Ans: Here are some spiritual uses of the tulasI leaves.

It is good to string tulasI leaves into a garland and adorn Bhagavan with it.
Specifically, for VishNu and Anjaneya this garland is of much prIti (affectionately

The tulasI can be used in archanA using them in single dalas (leaves).

The tulasI garland is good for japam also.

It would bring in mangalam (prosperity) for women to light a lamp at the tulasI
mADam in their homes daily in the morning and evening, do pradakShiNam and
namaskAram. No durdevatas (evil spirits) would come near the home and
subhikSham (abundance of provisions) would ensue.

From the tulasI plant the puja is done to, no leaf should be plucked for whatever
reason (even for doing puja to deities). Women should not pluck the tulasI leaves.
They should not be plucked after mAdhyAnikam (noon) or on the day of dvAdashI.
The tulasI leaves should not be dropped in the homa fire.

It is good to add tulasI dalam to the substance used in nivedanam; also puNyam
to add it when dakShiNa is given during sambhAvana (honouring) the priest.


panchAngam: for the ordinary householder

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.38)

Que: We don't use the PanchAngam, but we buy it regularly every year. Is it
necessary for an ordinary householder?

Ans: Everyone of us should keep a PanchAngam at home; that in itself is puNyam. If

possible, after morning bath and a lamp is lit before the Swami, you should open the

PanchAngam before the deity and read out the day's tithi, nakShatram, yogam and
such other details and get to know them; panchAnga nitya paThanam would give
puNya, no doubt about it.


Lotus leaf: eating on it

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.39)

Que: Can one eat food on the lotus leaf?

Ans: Yes, one can. With no other leaf, food can be taken on its backside, but this
can be done with the lotus leaf. But then in general it is not customary for a
gRuhasta to eat food on a lotus leaf or a purasa leaf: only brahmachAris, yatis
(bachelors, ascetics) can do it. Food can be taken on the leaves of the jackfruit,
mango, coconut, plantain and bilva trees.


Vedas: and women

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.39)

Que: Please explain why women should not seek to learn the Vedas to recite them.

Ans: We should understand one thing at the start. Vedas are not just prArthana
stotras (prayer songs) or a religious scripture taught by a specific person to the
people of only a specific varNa.

Three things are to be borne in mind when chanting the Vedas: 1. svaram (musical
note, accent and tone), 2. pronunciation and 3. mAtra (duration of individual

syllables). The rules and regulations involving these requirements are very
elaborate. Only if the Vedas are recited according to these regulations will they give
saMpUrNa phala (wholesome fruits).

To do adhyayana (Vedic study and practice) in the above-mentioned manner, only

men have the suitable physical features in their bodies. The nADi chalanas
(movement in 'nADis') that women are naturally endowed with won't be suitable for
the Veda svaras. The veda svaram that arises from the nAbhi (navel) would create
viparIta (adverse, inauspicious) results in women.

In addition, it requires guru mukha dIkSha (initiation by a guru) to recite the Vedas
as such; for this reason too women are prohibited from chanting the Vedas.

Although men are eligible physically for learning the Vedas to recite them, only if
they undergo the upanayana samskAram, they can learn the Vedas. Since the
shAstras do not prescribe upanayanam for women, there is no question of their
chanting the Vedas.

However, there is no bar on women to know about the Vedas through bhAShyas
(commentaries), study them deeply or discuss them. In fact we know that there
were women Vedic experts in the ancient days!

Like the Bible and Quaran of the Western religions, there are many books of
prayers in our religion too! Bhagavad Gita, Vishnu SahasranAmam, Lalitha
SahasranAmam, Saundarya Lahiri, SubrahmaNya Bhujangam, DevI MahAtmiyam
and such other countless stotras, shlokas and nAma saMkIrtanas are there, and
there is no bar on women to do pArAyaNa of them.

We should not forget that in the past women who was fed up with the samsAra
sAgaram (sea of worldly life) and wanted relief from it, only sought the above
scriptures to regulate their mind. Not only that, in the Hindu Dharma, we know that
there are several vratas (vows) and pujas that are specially meant for women.

There is no question of men being superior to women in such matters (as having
the privilege to learn the Vedas). Women do have certain natural bodily
inconveniences that rule out their learning the Vedas for chanting. A lot of heat is
generated dur to the veda pArAyaNam (Vedic chanting). The pronunciations that
arise from the jaTharAgni (fire in the stomach) won't go well with the physiology of

Let us know about another thing here. It is not that only Brahmins should learn the
Vedas. Non-brahmins who are Vaishyas or KShatriyas can also learn the Vedas.

Just because a person is not physically suitable or scripturally permitted to do

something, she/he does not become inferior to another person. If any women
chooses to forgo these regulations and start to learn and chant the Vedas by way of
a revolution, let them carry on. Since this is the age of Kali, we should only keep
quiet at any such efforts--not slight or prevent them. There is not doubt to me that
one's own experiences and the results of such efforts would teach her/him a good

I pray to AmbaaL that women who do pArAyaNa of stotras and involve themselves
in nAma saMkIrtana, puja and vratas get sakala saubhAgyas (all the prosperities).


kutthu viLakku (standing brass lamp)

Que: When a kutthu viLakku is lit in the homely nitya pUja, how many of its
mukhams (openings, faces) should be lit?

Ans: Though it is a kutthu viLakku with many mukhas, there is no custom to light
more than one mukham in the homely nitya pUja. For example, if it is a pancha
mukha kuttu viLakku (lamp with five openings), only one of the openings can be lit.
When this is done daily, the mukham that is lit should face the east or north
direction. On festive days such as KArtikai, all the faces of a lamp can be lit.

Whenever a kuttu viLakku is lit, kumkumam should be applied to its front

(mukappu). After the lamp is lit, the woman who lights it should do namaskAram. In
the same way, namaskAram should be done when the lamp is colled down
(malaiyetRal). Also, it is not necessary to wash the kuttu viLakku daily.


Jewellery: wearning multiple ear studs

Que: These days some women have multiple pricks on their ears and wear many
ear studs. Is this right?

Ans: No. According to the Hindu sampradAyam (tradition) it is anAchAram

(offensive practice) to have more than one prick on an ear.


deshAchAra (local practice): sandal paste and women

Que: In answering an earlier question, you had said that women should not wear
the sandal paste on their forehead, but they can wear it on their neck. But then in
Kerala women commonly wear the sandal paste on their forehead. How is this?

Ans: True, but that is a deshAchAram (local practice). Certain customs and habits
differ in certain places. Specifically, in the Kerala state certain things do indeed
seem viparIta (adverse, inauspicious). For example, in this state which is considered
as the "ParashurAma kShetram":

women do not wear the half-sari over their chest, where as this garment is
considered a must for women;

it is also commonly seen that women spread out their hair instead of wearing it in

Things such as these are not acceptable in our tradition and culture. We can also
see that several women avoid such inauspicious customs and habits and live for
generations according to the prescriptions of the ShAstras.

Only the general rule is important for us. We need not worry about deshAchAras.




13 March 2009, 10:40 PM

Most of these rules sound as if they were made by fallible mortals and certainly
infallible divinity. Indian society is rotten and putrid, denying its own strengths and
pouring its human weaknesses into glorification of its own inner sense hungers
leading to societal meltdown at the physical level. The faults are human, and not at
all found in the Vedas, of this I am certain. But it's going to take the burning fire of
dissolution to take that rotten foundation of superstition and greed down. We
humans never learn until we've been burned, it's true...

I have contempt for all of these rules which distract from things that matter most.



13 March 2009, 11:01 PM

Namaste Naomi.

I have contempt for all of these rules which distract from things that matter most.

The Hindu SamskAra Regulations are meant for and practised by Hindus who are
orthodox at different levels. They are CERTAINLY NOT MEANT for the casual and
flippant westerners who do not understand the depth of rituals and devotion and
personal gods, which are the reason for the sustenance of Hinduism in the grass
roots and also the reason many non-Hindus seek to Hinduism.

Certainly you are not in a position to pass judgement on what might seem
superstitions in the rituals or question the divinity behind them. Thousands of
Hindus do derive their benefit of following these regulations and will continue to do.

Sacraments are there in all religions, though to some they might seem primitive,
superstitious and fallible. They have their values and motivations in the dharma of

You might perhaps be benefited by reading books like The Science of the
Sacrements and The Hidden Side of Things by Bishop C.W.Leadbeater, which are
hosted in the Website:



17 March 2009, 11:53 AM

I have nothing with Westerners nor Easterners, there is no salvation in humanity.

These rules serve as distractions from the ways to regulate mind, and are to be
disregarded by serious practitioners of yoga since they incur unnecessary
restlessness in the mind and an assurance of righteousness which is but illusionary.
Uselessness under the pretense of righteousness is as bad as sinful reaction you
can be assured of that - it is harder to detect and just as rotten. It's a waste of time
and ultimately a dead-end...but by the time you figured it out much precious time is
lost. Those who assert these rules as a test of virtue are also corrupt.

I have a right to question anything as I see fit, and I respect this right in others as
well. I am suspicious of anyone who asserts holiness on the grounds of mere
tradition. Human tradition? what a flaw on this planet...



17 March 2009, 11:12 PM

Namaste Namomi.

I don't expect a subscriber/practitioner of 'deviant art' to understand all of this

reply. It is meant more for the others who might see some value in your reckless

These rules serve as distractions from the ways to regulate mind, and are to be
disregarded by serious practitioners of yoga since they incur unnecessary
restlessness in the mind and an assurance of righteousness which is but illusionary.

The rules that require a Hindu (I am not talking about Westerners or their religious
practices here) to adhere to his/her dharma are not distractions to his/her 'yoga
sAdhana'. They are neither illusionary nor give restlessness of mind. On the other
hand, they regulate the mind and body for the 'sAdhana'. A Hindu is always
exhorted to follow his/her dharma at least to the minimum extent. The very name
'Sanatana Dharma' is a case in point.

Unless one becomes a sannyAsi (ascetic), the dharma precepts are a must, though
there is no compulsion for the Hindus to follow everything listed here. (It cannot be
done also. A Hindu realizes that these rules, like the rules of life and society are
guidelines with their own rigours and options).

And when one becomes a sannyAsi, a different set of rules and regulations apply.
When even sannyAsis who are AchAryas (teachers) to the public, involve
themselves in the bhakti path, observe the rigours of devotional routines, who are

we to neglect them under false notions? Who is a better yogi than Sri Adi Shankara;
for all his Advaitic teachings, he is popularly known only for his bhakti stotras
(devotional hymns).

Uselessness under the pretense of righteousness is as bad as sinful reaction you

can be assured of that - it is harder to detect and just as rotten. It's a waste of time
and ultimately a dead-end...but by the time you figured it out much precious time is

Yoga and meditation are not like 'deviant art' where the artist can break rules and
traditions with wild and reckless abandon.

Assumed usefulness under the pretext of 'yoga sAdhana' that neglects dharma and
'niyama' is even worse than the above. There is no greater 'yoga sAdhana' than
Patanjali's eight-limbed yoga, whose very first requirements are 'yama' and

There is no 'yoga sAdhana' that does not depend on a form or sound--an image or
words; and images and words impose their own regulations! For example, if a
person thinks that he/she can meditate on a mantra such as aum namo nArAyaNa
or even the basic aum mantra, mentally reciting it with one's own intonations,
pronounciation or pauses, his/her 'sAdhana' would be fruitless. In the same way, an
image or concept has its own regulations. A form that imposes its own regulations is
a must until a person practising meditation is able to reach the state of samAdhi at

Those who assert these rules as a test of virtue are also corrupt.

This is an irresponsible and arrogant statement. What do you mean--that the Hindu
Dharma Shastras and the Acharyas who follow and assert their rules are corrupt?

I have a right to question anything as I see fit, and I respect this right in others as

I am glad that you recognize that others have a right to question your questions.

I am suspicious of anyone who asserts holiness on the grounds of mere tradition.

Human tradition? what a flaw on this planet...

You perhaps think yourself as an angel to say this. What other tradition which is not
human do we have on this planet? The very concept and holiness of God derives
only from human traditions!

The problem of Westerners declaring themselves to be Hindus with little faith in the
Hindu Dharma or traditions and criticizing Hindu practices with reckless abandon
and passing generalized innuendo on Hindu sages and AchAryas is on the increase
in HDF.

I think Satay must obtain and publish as part of their profiles their earlier religion
and the reason they 'became Hindus', so devout Hindus (both Indian and Western)

who want to truly learn and increase their knowledge can mind their business and
ask in one word, people with no intention to learn or understand, to keep mum,
instead of wasting time with sympathetic explanations that are met with wanton
ignorance with a face of wild mockery.



17 March 2009, 11:25 PM

pet animals: a dog at home

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.45)

Que: There is an opinion that one should not keep a dog at home. Your opinion?

Ans: It is true that one should not keep a dog at home. Mahabharata says this: "It is
not considered good omen to have a boken vessel, broken cot, dog or a peepul tree
at home." (Mahabharata, AnusAsana Parva, 127.5).

The Dharma Shastra says that a dog can be kept to secure the home or guard the
agricultural fields. It is not wrong to feed it or give it shelter, but then the dog
should be kept at a distance. It is not good to hug or kiss the dog, or make it lie
down on the bed nearby.

Generally, it is the duty of a kuTumbasta (householder) to feed living animals such

as the dog, no doubt, but moving with them should kept within limits. It is better for
the people who have shraddhA (faith, trust) in the AchAra-anuShThAna (religious
regulations) to keep pet animals such as a dog at a distance, no doubt.


Women doing yogAsanas

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.47)

Que: Can women do yogAsanas?

Ans: Yes, they can, nothing wrong in that. Somewhat necessary in these times.
Those days women occupied themselves with manual labours such as dry- and wetgrinding using mechanical, stone devices, using the grinding stone in kitchen (in the
place of a mixer), washing clothes by beating them over a stone and so on, which
activities gave them all the daily exercise they required. These manual activities are
completely forgotton today.

Therefore, through a suitable teacher, women can learn yoga that fits their health
and stature. They should not, however, neglect their daily home chores under the
guise of doing 'yogAsanas'. Once the required 'Asanas' are learnt, a daily workout of
15 minutes is sufficient for them.


pitRu kArya, shrAddham: annadAnam

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.51)

Que: We arrange for annadAnam on the shrAddha tithi. Is this right?

Ans: When the shrAddham is done as pArvaNam (with homam), there is no place
for annadAnam there. In case due to some constraints or circumstances if the
shrAddham is done as hiraNyam (without homam), there is nothing wrong in doing
annadAnam on the day.

Enough if we understand one thing. The annadAnam cannot become a substitute

for the shrAddham. shrAddham is only shrAddham, nothing else.




23 March 2009, 11:27 PM

rudrAkSha mAlA niyamas

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.54)

Que: It would be useful to let me know the niyamas for wearing a garland of
rudrAkSha beads.

Ans: If it is a single rudrAkSha bead tied around the neck as a necklace, it can be
worn at all times and the niyamas don't apply.

In other cases, the rudrAkSha mAlA should not be worn all the 24 hours. During the
times of nidrA (sleep), having a meal, going to the toilet, and doing shASTAnga
namaskAram, the garland should be removed. However, there is an opinion that if
the rudrAkSha beads are stringed with svarNam (gold), it can be worn all the times
with no doShas.


pitRu kArya, tarpaNam: times

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.55)

Que: It is said that the pitRu kAryas such as the amAvAsya tarpaNam, mahAlaya
shrAddham should not be done in the morning hours, only more or less during the
mAdhyAnihaka (noon) time. But this can hardly be done in cities by working men,
what to do?

Ans: Let us understand one thing. Generally, the times prescribed for these
ceremonies are based on the kAla krama computed by our ancestors. It is not
possible to adhere to them completely in the urban circumstances of these days.

It is uttama to do the ceremonies in the noon time. If we say that they should not
be done before that time, there is the danger of people giving up such karmAs.
Moreover, the shAstrigaL who do dattam (guide performance) of these ceremonies
at ten or fifteen homes, cannot be at the homes of his client disciples at the same
time! In these days when most people have migrated from the villages to towns and
cities, the difference in times for performing these ceremonies do not constitute

One thing, though. The pArvaNa shrAddham must be done at the prescribed time,
because it is pratyApttikam (restitution), therefore of great mahima. So the
shrAddham should be done with great bhaya bhakti, AchAram and with the kAla

In summary, if you follow the advice of your family priest you will not have any
bAdhakam (annoyance).


bhakti in the TV channels

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.60)

Que: These days bhakti is dispensed through religious and spiritual programms in
TV channels. Does any good accrue by watching them?

Ans: It does, but then we should not get into the trap of Maya. Listening to VishNu
SahasranAmam on the TV is not the equivalent of our chanting it loudly with our
own mouth. Thus the satisfaction we derive from the TV chanting is only Maya: the
fruits will accrue only when we ourselves chant the stotra and do the pArAyaNam. In
the same way, only when we have personal darshan of the temples by going on
pilgrimages, we would get the puNyas, not by watching them over the TV.


pitRu kArya, shrAddham: sUtram

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.66)

Que: In the place we live we have, there is no shAstrigaL who knows the tradition of
bodhAyana sUtram which is our sidhra (custom) for the shrAddham ceremony. Only
a vAdhyAr who knows the Apastambha sUtram is there. We do not know how to
perform the ceremony?

Ans: When a vAdhyAr (priest) of one's specific sUtram is not available, the
shrAddham may be done through another sUtram. There won't be any karma
naSTam (loss of the ceremony) by such act, so you may proceed with it, as it is
important that the shrAddham should be performed.


Home puja: women doing puja done by men

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.74)

Que: When men can't do the daily home puja, can the women do it?

Ans: Yes, they can do it very well. But then there is no place in the ShAstras for
women to do the panchAyadana pUja. Even if one cannot do the puja in vistAram
(detailed manner), one may do it briefly, chanting the bhagavAn nAmAs known to
oneself, removing the old flowers and adorning the deities with new flowers and
then offering some nivedanam and lighting the camphor, and finally do the
namaskAram. One may chant the relevant shlokas that he knows. Bhakti is the most
important thing, and the puja should not go unperformed without a valid reason.


Doing puNya tIrtha yAtras for another person

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.74)

Que: Can another man do the gangAdi puNya tIrtha yAtras (pilgrimages to holy
places of rivers) for another man?

Ans: Yes, one man undertake tIrtha yAtra for another by way of helping the other
man. Proper saMkalpam should be done for this purpose. In the same way, with the
necessary saMkalpam, one can also do the pradakShiNa namaskAram for another.




24 March 2009, 10:36 AM

Perhaps you are right saidevo

but I strongly believe all of these rules are an irrelevant distraction and saying (as
per your own words) god comes from humans is, well...a Satanic viewpoint, but
nonetheless, I prefer to keep the door open to the phenomenon of so-called god
coming from an all-pervading Atman which is independent from the existence of
humanity. (even if interwoven therein) in other words humans are maya and not
ultimate reality. So rules about earrings are incredibly silly.

good day to you.



24 March 2009, 12:51 PM

Now that's some responsible reply Naomi, thanks for sharing your POV. Yes, perhaps
everyone of us is right in our own way, so no point in one finding fault with the

And yes, the humans, things around them, and this world--everything, is Maya; but
fortunately--or unfortunately perhaps--we don't have the (what seems to me as)
queer mix up and combinations in the practice of religion that we can have in

deviant art, and perhaps also in life. Perhaps you have more enlightenment on the
all-pervading Atman in your practices.

So rules about earrings are incredibly silly.

There you go again! Our rules are for our belief, like the unruly rules of your deviant
art. One might think a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g but when thinking is reduced to words in speech
or writing, it's reduced! There is always a tricky and treacherous gap between
thoughts and words.

Art can be deviant, but speech is more disciplined. I hope someday the Americans
who use their Hollywood trendset, hideously slang-ridden, sex-allusive language
with pride, would understand, lest they should end up like people in the movie

Good day and all the best.



24 March 2009, 10:55 PM

Puja articles from wayside shops

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.75)

Que: How do we find out the purity and cleanliness of the puja articles we buy from
wayside shops for our nitya pUja or other visheSha (festivity)?

Ans: One need not worry on this account. The Shastram says decisively that all the
padArthas (material articles) bought from wayside and other shops are pure and

In the same way, we need not insist about cleanliness with people suffering from
diseases, small boys who have not undergone upanayanam, and the woman in the
kitchen--our ancestors have advised us.


Birthday parties
(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.76)

Que: Celebrations such as the birthday party are on the increase today, what is
your opinion about them?

Ans: It is our custom to celebrate the birthdays of only mahAns. On the days of
KrishNa Jayanti, Hanumat Jayanti, devatA pUjas for these deities are prescribed for

Other than these, we have no custom of celebrating personal birthdays. In those

days, our ancestors used to visit temples on the birthday of their children, pour oil
to the temple lamps and perform archanAs.

If we need to celebrate personal birthdays, we might spend time by arranging for a

pArAyaNam (scriptural reading) or a [i]nAma-sankIrtanam (singing the glorious

names) in the evening. We don't have to follow the Westerners simply closing our

One thing I should like to point out though. Cutting a cake and blowing out candle
lights with mouth should never be done. In our culture, shubha kAryas (good things)
start with lighting a lamp, not blowing it out.


maDi vastram (ceremonially pure clothes)

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.77)

Que: Where there is no maDi vastram for the nitya pUja, can we do the puja
wearing clothes already washed and kept separately?

Ans: It can be done. But then it is necessary to give a prokShaNam to that vastram
with the praNavam, show it in the sUrya rashmi (sunlight) and then wear the
vastram for the puja.

If there is a nirbandham to use a wet cloth, if that cloth is fluttered in the air for
seven times it would construed to have become equal to a dry cloth. (Generally, one
should not do the puja or japam wearing a wet cloth).


Some bhojana niyamas

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.79)

Que: Should one be quiet during a meal? Generally, what are the things to be
observed during a meal?

Ans: Here are some bhojana niyamas:

The gRuhastha should not be silent when eating. He is required to observe silence
only till the prANAhuti.

One should not eat with a wet or just a single piece of cloth.

Men should eat only after doing the pariseShaNam both in the noon time and
night time.

If one needs to drink water with his left hand, the right hand should be touching
the leaf plate.

After one is sufficiently aged, he can avoid taking the pazhaiyatu (leftover rice of
previous day). With curd, buttermilk and oils, there is no doSham of leftovers.

If one finds any deficiency in a dish, one should not reproach the bhojanam during
mealtime, says the Upanishad. Later on, it can be deftly advised to the people who
cooked the food.

It is much visheSham not to take parAnnam (food from another person).

But then it is my abhiprAyam (opinion) that in these days one need not be very
strict about parAnnam; enough if this rule is observed during the times of
shrAddham, vratam. More than the annam the dravyam (money) we get reaches us
bearing many shapes. Don't we accept it without inquiring anything about it? Then
why should it be different for the annam too beyond a certain point? (For argument
sake, if everyone is strict about parAnnam, then who would eat in whose house and
how would the 'karmAs' be held?) This does not mean, however, that we can take
whatever we sight at whatever places. It is ADiyen's abhiprAyam that there is
nothing wrong for ordinary householders (including the vaidIkAL) if there is a

nirbandham to eat another's food. But then there should be no anAchAram and the
attention must be on the shuddham.




25 March 2009, 10:43 PM

(Mainly observed by brahmins)

pitRu kArya, shrAddham: brothers, GayA shrAddham

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.80)

Que: Is it right if the eldest son is performing the shrAddham, the other brothers
may only need to be beside him (without performing it separately)? Same way, after
one goes to GayA and performs the shrAddham, does the annual shrAddham need
to be performed?

Ans: Every son should do the shrAddham to his deceased parents once they are
living separately, having obtained or not obtained their share of the legacy of
parental properties. If all the brothers are living as a single, joint family, only then
the individual performances of the shrAddham is not necessary. If the brothers are
living separately and meet on the day of the shrAddham for a combined
performance, it is not acceptable. It is only for a joint family that the rule of only the
eldest performing the shrAddham and the other sons may be by his side is
applicable. In the other case, only if the shrAddham is performed individually with

homam, would the pitRus be more satisfied; pitRus have the capability of being
present in more than one place for the shrAddham.

GayA shrAddham

The idea that once a GayA shrAddham is performed, there is no need to perform
the annual shrAddham is completely abhadram (inauspicious, mischievous); against
the shAstras too. Do we forgo our daily meal just because one day we have a
sumptuous dinner in a 5-star hotel? GayA shrAddham is of great unnatvam
(sublimity). It should be done at least once in the janma. But then it has no
sambandham (relationship) with the annual prAptika shrAddham. Therefore, the
annual shrAddham must be performed without fail.


pitRu kArya, tarpaNam: shaNNavati tarpaNam

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.82)

Que: I would like to know the details of the shaNNavati tarpaNam.

Ans: The total of 96 tarpaNas offered in one year is known as shaNNavati

tarpaNam. These must be offered between the time of one year after conducting
the shrAddham of one's father, and before the next year's tithi of this ceremony
falls due. The shaNNavati is of great visheSham.

If the father is alive and the mother is not, it is not possible to practise shaNNavati.
If the father is not alive but the mother is, it can be anuShThita (practised).

amAvAsya (12), mAsa sangkramaNam (12), aSTakA and others (12), vaidhRuti (13),
vyatIpAta (13), manvantara days (14), yugAdi days (4), mahAlaya pakSham (16)-thus the shaNNavati includes a total of 96 tarpaNas.

Among these 96 tarpaNas, the amAvAsya, sangkramaNam might occur on the

same day. If the sangkramaNam is offered, both are deemed to have been offered.
There are certain rules for the inclusion of one tarpaNam within another. But the
mahAlayam will not be included in the amAvAsya, so both should be offered
separately. Although there is a rule that these 96 tarpaNas can be done as pArvaNa
shrAddham, since it is an impossible task, they can be offered in the tarpaNa

It would be good if the shaNNavti is observed at once in a man's lifetime. But there
is no compulsion.

Note: Please also check


vivAham and tarpaNam

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.84)

Que: Some people say that both the man who gave kanyAdAnam (bride in
marriage) and the bridegroom's father should not offer amAvAsya tarpaNam for
some months after the marriage is held?

Ans: Wrong. The tarpaNam should never be given up. But then in the offering,
some akShata should be added to the sesame. Some people use arugam pul (hirathi
grass) the place of the darbha grass for the tarpaNam.




26 March 2009, 09:18 PM

Growing a beard
(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.88)

Que: Is it good that men grow beard?

Ans: Generally, without a reason, men shouldn't grow beard. Only during the times
of pitRu dIkShA, garbha dIkShA, vrata, there can be beard on men's faces. After the
duration of that apara kAryam is over, the beard should be shaved off on the next
auspicious day.


Pure by nature
(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.88)

Que: What does the Shastra say about which among the things we see are shuddha
(clean/pure) by nature?


1. agni (fire) is always shuddha.

2. The feet of a brAhmaNa.
3. The backside of a cow and the face of a goat and horse.
4. All items bought in the bazaar.
5. The infant just born.
6. The weasel, fly, beetle and such other creatures.

7. No shuddha should be insisted with a rogiSTa (person with disease), bAlaka

(small boy), the woman in the kitchen.

8. For the flowers like lotus born in water and the flowers that are stringed, there is
no doSham of their being old. They can be kept in a refrigerator for a day or two and


nAma-sankIrtanam (singing God's glorious names)

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.84)

Que: About the nAma-sankIrtanam...?

Ans: By singing the glorious names of Bhagavan, bhakti and Ananda would swell
within us, and this would help us forget our worries. We should get the habit of
doing a nAma-sankIrtanam either as a group or with our family members at home
daily for sometime. The paramAnandam obtained in a bhajan can only be known by
experience; it is beyond words.

Maybe because that we should sing the glorious names of God, we see ourselves
chanting Bhagavan's various names in our daily Sandhya Vandanam.

One thing, though. The nAma-sankIrtanam cannot be a substitute for our nitya
karma or other anuShTAnas. We should be careful about this. Many of us are fooled
in this regard. (Recently, an opinion that a nAma-sankIrtanam is enough on the day
of a shrAddham is also doing the rounds).

In the name of bhajans we should not neglect the karmas we are blessed with by
our Rishis, and the treasures of prayogas handed down to us in succession by the
SUtrakas (mahAns such as Apastambha, BodhAyana and AshvavAyana). If we do it,
the loss is only to us.




27 March 2009, 11:21 PM

Living a meaningful retired life

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.89)

Que: I have recently retired from my service. There are no serious worldly
commitments. How can spend the rest of my life in uchitam (properly, delightfully)?
How should I change myself for that life?

Ans: A good question. Most people don't think about this at all, and live their retired
life as it comes.

If your health and household circumstances are favourable, you can think about the
following and take up what you can and have not done already. Thus you may:

Apart from the daily Sandhya Vandanam, do the Sahasra Gayatri Japam (1008

Start panchAyadana or sAlagrAma puja and do it daily.

Seek poor children, and teach them shlokas and about our Hindu dharma.

If there is facility at home start doing daily aupAsanam.

Try some public service such as doing kaingaryam in a temple.

While doing your anuShTAnas such as Sandhya Vandanam and puja at home, wear

Grow a shikhA (tuft of hair). Should we have not the shikhA atleast in one stage of
our life? During the days of school, college and office we ignored this for reasons of
our own making. At least after retirement we should think about having the shikhA
which is of great visheSham and our Hindu identity; we should not feel shy about it.

Seek the growth of AtmIka chintanA (spiritual thoughts) through a suitable guru.

In summary, starting thinking about your life as retired but not tired. Life will be
meaningful and useful.


Wearing golden kolusu (anklets)

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.90)

Que: Can women wear golden anklets (kolusu) on their legs?

Ans: They can't. It is not uchitam (proper) to wear svarNam (gold) below the hip.


sAdhAraNa nitya dharma

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.90)

Que: I want to know about the dharma that needs to be followed in daily life.

Ans: In these days, it is doubtful that one can completely follow the precepts of the
Dharma Shastra with consistency. Still if we know some of them, we might try to
follow a few of them completely and consistently in later life.

The following precepts are not only easy, but necessary too.

Under the guise of talking truth, one should not use bad or harsh language.

Leaving balance in debts would scorch us without a fire. So we shouldn't leave a

balance either in our debts or in our vratas (religious vows).

We should not always be immersed in thoughts.

The gRuhastas (householders) should not remain in single vastram (piece of


Women when cooking in kitchen, should be doing smaraNa (mental chanting) of

shlokas or bhagavAn nAmAs (names of God). This is very important.

After the mUtrAdi visarjanas (restroom chores), one should wash the legs and
gorgle at least twice (4,8,12,16 times according to the Shastras).

During vrata (time of view), taking milk, drinks such as Horlicks, medicine, or the
shrAddha bhojanam (eating on the day of ceremony), or talking during a mauna
vratam (vow of silence)--these things will not be deemed as resulting in vrata
bhangam (break in vow).

Without a reason, one should not drink water with the left hand or eat meals or
tiffin standing or walking about.


homaH: kUShmANDa homam

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.92)

Que: I have heard that the kUShmANDa homam is a prAyachitta homam (palliative
act). I would like to know some details about it.

Ans: The kUShmANDa homam is a very good prAyachitta karmA. Whoever whants
to do shuddhi of himself can do it.

A speciality of this homam is that in the other homas, the AchAryaL (vAdhyAr)
would get the AchArya varNam from the kartA and conduct the homam for him;
whereas this homam should be done by the kartA himself. That is, the kartA should
do it in his aupAsanagni.

Another speciality is that except the kUShmANDa homam no other homam is

directly mentioned in the Vedas. (Taittiriya-Aranyaka, 2.7.1)

Other than the wish to remove pApas (sins), thie homam can be done as
pUrvAngam (preliminary) for the karmAs such as a daughter's marriage, son's
upanayanam, the annual pratyAptika shrAddhas, and ShaShTi apta pUrti.

These days brahmins after they are back from an overseas trip do this homam as a
palliative for having crossed the ocean. This is also good.

If the kUShmANDa homam is done with the dIkShA niyamas prescribed for it,
maximum fruit will be obtained.

This homam is not expensive nor requires many ritviks or a large list of homam
material items. There is no doubt that this homam is a visheSha prAyachitta karmA.

Note: Kushmanda homa Vidhi by Dikshitha,Brahmasri Sundararaam is listed in the

online library at

About the AzhvArgaL (Azhvaars)

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.94)

Que: About the AzhvArgaL...

Ans: Since these mahAns had aparimita bhakti (limitless devotion) towards
MahAvishNu and deep knowledge in VaishNavam, they were known as AzhvArgaL.
They were twelve in number (10+2):

Poikai AzhvAr, Bhutattu AzhvAr, PEyAzhvAr, Tirumazhisai AzhvAr, Madhurakavi

AzhvAr, Kulasekhara AzhvAr, PeriyAzhvAr, AndAL, ToNDar ADippoDi AzhvAr,
TiruppANAzhvAr and Tirumangai AzhvAr.

The granthas (compositions) they blessed us with are 24 in number, comprising a

total number of 4,000 songs. One speciality about this is that NammAzhvAr's four
books are considered equal to the four Vedas:

Tiruviruttam - Rig Veda, Tiru Asiriyam - Yajur Veda, Periya TiruvandAdi - AtharvaNa
Veda, TiruvAimozhi - SAma Veda.

In summary, all the songs composed by these 12 AzhvArs are steeped in deep
bhakti and are replete with facts of Vedanta. The collection of these 4,000 songs is
called Divya Prabhandam.




28 March 2009, 11:33 PM

kolam at the doorsteps

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.99)

Que: Things to attend when water is sprinkled on the ground of doorsteps early

Ans: It is visheSham to sprinkle the ground at the doorsteps with water every
morning before sunrise and draw a kolam. (If any occasions arise when the kolam
should not be drawn, one should not stop sprinkling water anyway.)

Generally women do the chore of sprinkling water and drawing a kilam. But there is
no bar on men to do it when necessary.

Since it is our belief that certain devatas reside there for our security, we should
not fail to draw kolam on the vAsal paDi (steps and the threshold) too.

It is best to use the flour of rice for the kolam. On visheSha days it is necessary to
border a kolam with the semmaN (red oxide powder).


ArAdhana for siddha puruShas, swamijis

(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.99)

Que: Can the ArAdhana of siddha puruShas and swAmigaL who attained siddhi be
done at home?

Ans: Can very well be done, there are no prescepts against it.


pariSheshaNam procedure
(Sri Sarma SastrigaL in his book 'VaidIkam and Culture', p.100)

Que: Please explain the procedure of doing pariSheshaNam.

Ans: This has another name, 'prANAgnihotram'. The pariSheshaNam is done during
the time of taking a meal, which should usually be in the noon and night. It is not
required at times of taking tiffin or snacks. The pariSheshaNa mantras should be
chanted in mind, not loudly.

1. Chanting 'Aum bhUr bhuva suvahaH', some water should be held on the palm of
the right hand and trickled through the fingers in drops around their leaf-plates. The
left hand should lightly touch the leaf-plate while doing this.

2. Continuing the chanting of the Gayatri Mantra, prokShaNam (sprinkling of water)

should be done on annam and other padArthas on the leaf-plate: 'tat savitur
vareNyam, bhargo devasya dhImahi, dhiyo yo naH prachodayAt'.

3. Chanting 'deva savitaH prasuvaH', water should again be tricked round the leafplate.

4. Chanting the mantra 'satyam tvartena pariShinchAmi' in the morning and 'Rtam
tvA satyena pariShincAmi' in the evening (after 5 o' clock), the food on the plate
should be encircled with water again.

5. Taking some tIrtham on the palm of the right hand (or letting another person to
measure out the water) and chanting the mantra 'amRuthOpastharaNamasi' and sip
it. This act is known as Aposanam.

Further Info:

amRut ApaH upastaraNam asi: upastaraNam means the act of spreading out under
as a substratum. This way one invokes the little amount of water he sipps now to
spread within him as Amrutam or nectar and form the substratum for the food to
follow. Vishnu Purana says that liquid substances should be taken at the beginning
and at the end of the meal.

The Rishis have mentioned in the Upanishads (Chhandogya Upanishad 5.2.2 and
Brhadaranyaka Upanishad 6.1.15) that realized people, while eating, before and
after their meal, 'dress up' the prANa (breath of life) with water. Water is a purifier;
it also sustains the body. Most Hindu rituals start with sipping water, an act known
as Achamanam. The Yoga Shastras recommend that we should fill only half our
stomach with food, a quarter with water and the rest should be air. This ideal
proportion brings in spiritual and bodily health.

6. Chanting the six mantras below, sAdam in morsels of 4 or 5 grains should be

taken with the fingers and swallowed without their touching the teeth.

aum prANAya svAhA |

aum apAnAya svAhA |
aum vyAnAya svAhA |
aum udAnAya svAhA |
aum samAnAya svAhA |
aum bhrahmaNE svAhA |

Further Info:

1. This act is called prANAhuti. While taking a morsel of rice with fingers, the
thumb, middle and ring fingers of their right hand in a typical mudrA of a deer-head,
should be used, and the head should be kept down to face the plate so it is easy to
throw the morsel in.

2. After water, it is now the turn of the air or breath. Water nourishes the body to
keep it healthy, but air in the form of life breath sustains the soul and holds it in the
driver seat of this bodily vehicle. The life breath or prANa has five functions.

prANa is the principal breath coursing through our nostrils and lungs; you can use
it to control and regulate your mind and thoughts.

apAna is responsible for the excretory activity.

samAna circulates around the navel and plays a vital role in digestion.

vyAna is diffused through the body and is responsible for circulatory activity.

udAna is the wind that goes upward in respiration.

These five vital airs together represent the Vaayu deity; they are also infused with
agni or fire and Apas or water. Therefore we offer a morsel of annam as Ahuti to
these gods, by swallowing the food without biting it. We don't bite it because it is
not for personal consumption.

7. Chanting 'aum brahmaNi ma AtmA-amRtatvAya', a little amount of water should

be dropped on the left side, touched with the ring finger of the left hand and then
with that finger the chest should be touched.

Further Info:
This mantra says, "May the Self be united with Brahman so it may attain

8. One can start eating now.

9. At the end of the meal some water is poured on the right palm and sipped
chanting the mantra 'amRuthOpastharaNamasi'.

Further Info:

After this, some water is trickled in drops around the leaf saying "annadAtA sukhI
bhavaH"--a Sanskrit proverb, meaning 'May the food provider be happy and hearty!'

This is an act of remembering all the people whose labour has gone into the food
articles consumed. This includes the people who cooked the food. As Bhishma said
in Mahabharata the physical and mental health of the cooks who prepare the food
influences the people who partake the food. This is the reason orthodox brahmins
avoid restaurants.




31 March 2009, 09:23 AM

chickpea garland to Sri DakShiNAmUrti

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Mar 10,2009, p32)

Que: We offer a garland made of 108 koNDaikkaDalai (chickpea) pieces to Sri

DakShiNAMUrti every Thursday. Some people say that we should not prick a

chickpea with a needle to string them, as that would cause them pain since they are
living things. What is the position in this regard?

Ans: Our national song 'vande mAtaram' says that ours is a land of flowers gifted to
us by Mother Nature ('pullakusumita'). Sri KrishNa says that it is enough if one offers
him a leaf, flower, water or fruit. The flowers are the most suitable for a garland. It
is wrong to string items that we fancy into garlands showing unsupported
references to it. Since IshA took poison, can we offer him poison as nivedanam?
KaNNan says that he is immanent in all that moves and do not move. Can we offer
stone and sand to him?

The JyotiSham (astrology) says that the sAnnidhyam (presence) of the nine planets
is felt in all the things in this world. It is also explained as different in a flower, fruit
or an unripe /green fruit. These differences are there to highlight their nature and
are limited. For stringing into a garland, none others have the eligibility that the
flowers have.

If it hurts to prick a chickpea, even the chicken and goat are hurt when picked,
since they are living beings too! So, instead of using vegetables and fruits (and
nuts), use flowers, which are eminently suitable for stringing into a garland. Use the
vegetables and fruits for eating. It is always best to act with some thought.


Converting a bequeathed mAngalyam into jewelry

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Mar 10,2009, p22)

Que: After living a long life as a ripe Sumangali, my mother attained Shivaloka
PrApti. Her tirumAngalyam is with me for the last 60 years. Can we convert it into
other jewelry and wear them?

Ans: Gold is always pure. Its purity is not affected by someone wearing it, or by
being paryushita (stale, not fresh). There is nothing wrong in changing it into
ornaments. The husband would tie a new thAli (mAngalyam) around his wife's neck

on the day of their 60th year of age celebrations and feel happy. There is also a
custom to convert a tirumAngalyam into chain and put it round the neck of a

People also use the gold and silver kAppu (talisman) made for the first child for the
successive ones. This would then acquire the honour of a family privilege (Aki
vandatu). There is also an unfortunate sampradAyam (tradition) that after the first
wife is dead, the husband marrying again use the her tirumAngalyam for the second
wife. There are also mothers who used their tirumAngalyam for their daughter's
wedding. Mothers who are economically weaker have a custom of wearing a 'gold
dot' and let their daughter have their tirumAngalyam for her wedding. Therefore,
you can reuse the said tirumAngalyam without any hesitation.


pitRu kArya: amAvAsya, auspicious day?

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Mar 10,2009, p23)

Que: It is customary to start good efforts on the day of amAvAsya. But then in the
PanchAngam published by Sakthi Vikatan (3.6.08 issue) it is mentioned,
'amAvAsyai--avoid good efforts'. Please explain it.

Ans: From the point of view of JyotiSha, the day of amAvAsya is not auspicious for
good efforts. On a day when the chandra balam is totally absent, it is not suitable
for efforts aimed at growth!

Many among us would prefer to ignore the waning fortnight. How can we accept a
day when no phase of the moon is seen? Auspicious time is decided based on tithi,
vAram, nakShatram, yogam, karaNam; amAvAsya does not give place for good
things. Shastra is not in agreement with doing another thing on day when the
ancestors should be worshipped.

We say that during the memorial days of leaders we need to be immersed in their
thoughts doing nothing else. The belief that the new moon day is auspicious is born

out of unsupported reference. When there is this reference in astrology, we may as

well as ignore the belief.




03 April 2009, 10:59 PM

pitRu kArya, shrAddham: venue

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Mar 26,2009, p36)

Que: Can the annual tithi be offered on the banks of a pond or river? Or should it be
given only at home?

Ans: The Dharma Shastra says that divine worship, yajna, japa homas and the
ArAdhanam of ancestors are best done under a roof. The Veda that introduced the
first yajna recommended only a place under a roof (antarhi dohi devaloko...).

We live only under a roof, not in the open space? So, the tithi offered at home has a
special distinction. The tIrtha shrAdhhas may be performed going to the place of a
puNya tIrtham and taking a bath there. This is different from the tithi that should be
offered at home, and it would be wrong to offer such tithi on the banks of a pond or

People who live in a small house that can't be used to offer tithi might consider
using the banks of a pond or river for this purpose. However, everyone must try to
offer the tithi at home as far as possible. And this would also ensure that the
sanctity and importance of this rite is introduced to the next generation!


Eccentric devotional customs and habits

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Mar 26,2009, p37)

Que: During tErOTTam (religious car procession), some people scatter their offering
such as flowers, fruits and food prasAdam before the divine car on its path. This
custom has the danger of people slipping over them as they pull the car. Why can't
they store the articles in a place and distribute them to others?

Ans: The mind of the devotees attains fulfilment in practising what they desire for
their deity. The mental inclinations of devotees would make them forget the
circumstance (for such is the power of bhakti).

A bhakta would regard the divine car as the deity itself, reverentially touch it and
touch his eyes with those fingers. He would also smear on his forehead the sand
from the tracks of the car wheels. People who pull the car wouldn't slip over the
articles on their path but would manage to overcome or avoid them, because they
are devotees too!

A mind that steps away from the deity would regard things and acts differently.
Such a person might have the fear that the burning torches and bursting crackers
that precede a divine procession might cause a fire hazard; that the pieces of
coconuts smashed to the ground might cause injury to the people standing by; that
there might be a sudden gush of flood and sweep the person away when he/she is
bathing in a sacred river.

The devotee stays with the faith that God would take care of everything; and there
would be no problem of any untoward incidents.


pitRu kArya: amAvAsya, auspicious day?

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Mar 26,2009, p39)

Que: People say that good things can be started on the day of amAvAsya even if it
is not an auspicious day according to tithi, nakShatram? Is this right?

Ans: Wrong. A good thing should be started only taking into consideration the tithi,
nakShatram. Generally, the amAvAsya should be avoided for this purpose.

The dinam, lagnam (day and time) when we start shubha kAryas must be an
auspicious; with matching tArAbalam and it should also be on the waxing phase of
the moon for chandra balam, says the Shastra (tadeva lagnaM sudinaM tadeva*).

But there would be no chandra balam on the day of amAvAsya. Chandran (moon)
has an intimate connection with our mind; and the strength of the moon phase
would help us carry on in our act with concentration; it would be wrong to lose this
balam. Additionally, the roles of the tArA balam (star strength) yoga and karaNa are
important. If one says that there would be fruits ignoring all these aspects that are
absent on the day of amAvAsya, it is not proper.

If some examples of success of efforts started on the new moon day are shown, will
the falsity become the truth?

There could be many reasons for a successful effort; all of them should be taken
into account when the fruits are assessed. The evidences of astrology are also

To think that starting a good thing on amAvAsya would get the blessings of
deceased ancestors and make it a success is faith. But to act on a few experiences
ignoring the Shastras is wrong.

tadeva lagnaM sudinaM tadeva tArAbalaM chandrabalaM tadeva |
vidyA balaM daivabalaM tadeva laxmIpateH tenghri yugaM smarAmi ||
--a popular mantra in pujas and auspicious rituals.

What is the best time to worship the Lord? When our hearts are at the feet of Lord
Narayana, then the strength of the stars, the moon, the strength of knowledge and
all the Gods will combine and make it the most auspicious time and day to worship
the Lord.

Wikipedia has a good article on the Hindu calendar:




06 April 2009, 10:34 PM

bhakti: body or mind related?

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Mar 26,2009, p39)

Que: Is bhakti mere body related? Or is it mind related? (Some of the acts of
devotees such as) Piercing the tongue or skin in other body part, walking over
embers, and shaving off the head in the name of offering hair are all only body

Ans: Thinking of God in the mind and getting immersed in that thought is bhakti.
The mind will obtain an alAti Anandam (distinctive joy) in reaching God.

But then the attachment to God would only express itself through body parts.
Hands offer flowers in archanA (worship); legs lead to a temple; (lips chant a mantra
or sing a bhajan; eyes shed tears in momentary relaization; devotion courses down
the body in ripples of ecstasy). Therefore, only the body carries out the wishes and
orders of the mind.

We declare in prayer 'My body, wealth and soul all dedicated to you'! Acts such as
walking over embers and shaving off the head only express the thoughts of the
mind in action. The devotee's wishes related to his devotion to God would never be


shravaNa vratam: what and how?

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Mar 26,2009, p41)

Que: What is shravaNa vratam? How to observe this vow?

Ans: The TiruvONam NakShatram is called shravaNam. Its devatA is VishNu says
the Veda ('shroNo nakShatram viShNur devatA').

Therefore, it is best to worship VishNu on the day of this NakShatram. The

TiruvONam that falls in the month of AvaNi (ShravaNa) on the day of DvAdashi
during the waxing fortnight is of great visheSham (distinction)! This day is known as
'ShravaNa DvAdashi'.

On this auspicious day, if VasudevA is worshipped by fasting and prayers all the
shortcomings in us would be removed. (GaruDa Puranam, ch.141). GaruDa Puranam
explains the procedure for this worship.

Therefore, observe the ShravaNa Vratam with its simple precepts, worship
VasudevA and reap the benefits.


Moving to a new house in the month of Ani

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Mar 26,2009, p41)

Que: Moving to a new house in the month of Ani (JyeShTa, Jun-Jul) is said to be
wrong? Any parihAram for this?

Ans: If you are moving to a rented house, you can very well do it in the month of
Ani. If you are moving to your own house, try to avoid Ani.

People who move to their newly built home conduct a ceremony called
'GRuhaprevesham' and then move on an auspicious day, computed based on the
tithi, vAram, nakShatram etc. and time. Only that is best and would bring in

People moving on transfer to another place or moving to a house in another town

or village, in view of the economical factors, need not consider Ani as unsuitable for
moving to the new house.


mantra: Distinction of 'shrIm' in a mantra

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Mar 26,2009, p41)

Que: What is the distinction of the 'shrIm' in a mantra?

Ans: 'shrI' means LakShmi. This term has additional meanings such as kaLai
(liveliness), wealth, 'bilvam', fame, lotus flower and so on. Vedas refer to the eternal
fame of their kaLai (liveliness) as 'shrI'. The Dharma Shastra underscores that the
title ShrI should be added before the names of Devas, Gurujis, elders and the MUrtis
residing in temples.

'shrI' has the power to make whatever it joins to and whatever related to its holder,
prosperous. This is the very purpose of adding the title SrimAn, Srimati or Tiru.,
Tirumati in Tamil to personal names! Wealth indicates not just money but all the
types of wealth and prosperity obtainable in life! What is joined with 'shrI' would
flourish with all the prosperity.




10 April 2009, 05:48 AM

flowers: pavaLamalli (pArijAta, coral-jasmine)

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Jan 10,2009, p37)

Que: Some people say that the pavaLamalli (pArijAta) flower should only be picked
from the ground not plucked directly from the plant. Is that so?

Ans: The flowers can be plucked from the plant as well as gathered from the ground
where they fall.

Considering the difficulty of plucking flowers that are small, people usually shake
the plant to let the flowers fall to the ground and then pick them up. There is
nothing wrong in picking them from the ground.

Festivals: why nine days for AmbaaL alone?
(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Oct 14,2008, p36)

Que: We stop with just a day's celebration for the festivals relating to the TrimUrtis
doing the three tasks; whereas for AmbaaL alone we celebrate her festival for nine
days, why?

Ans: A group of nine Asuras--Madhu, KaiTabha, MahiShAsura, DhUmralochana,

Chandan, MunDan, Sumbha, Nisumbha, RaktabIja--once took control and harassed
the inhabitants of the three worlds.

The Asuras could not be defeated by anyone--the 33 crores of Devas, DigbAlakas,

Indra or even by the TrimUrtis. The Devas had a serious discussion about liberating
the worlds from the clutches of the Asuras.

IshvarA (Shiva) woke up from his meditation. He separated the tejas that was his
Shakti from his body. The Devas contributed their own tejas to it. The combined
shakti of them all became a great source of light. The name of that great light was
Durga. The shakti when it was hidden in masculinity wasn't much helpful, so the
Devas wanted it come out on its own in a feminine form.

The rise of Durga signifies that in the ultimate, there is no difference between man
and woman and that the hidden power inside them should be used for productive
tasks. In addition to their power, the Deva's weapons too reached AmbaaL. In short,
AmbaaL was a combined form of the Devas, as the Devi Mahatmyam elaborates.

As Brahma's power was joined to her, she became BrAhmI. The name Maheshvari
indicates MaheshA's (Shiva's) power in her. In the same way, she has the powers of
Murugap Peruman, VishNu and Indra, as indicated by her names KaumArI,
VaishNavI, VarAhI (aMsa of VarahamUrti, VishNu's avatar) and IndrANi.

It is customary to celebrate the death of an enemy in a war with kutUhalam

(interest). Devi destroyed all the nine Asuras who were the enemies of the three
worlds! So we celebrate her victory for nine days. She was one who acted for the
welfare of the people and accomplished it.

The pUraNa mahatvam (full splendour) of a great light will be accentuated at night.
It is a feast for the eyes to have darshan of her at night. For an enlightened,
delightful life it is best to worship her who is full of light. SUrya (sun) gives light only
during day, whereas she gives her light in darkness too. SUrya can't remove the
darkness of ignorance that is dense in the mind; Devi can do it. Thus we can
understand her speciality that is different from the other gods.

Fear should be gone from the peoples' minds. Poverty shouldn't embrace them.
Ignorance should be removed and the light of knowledge shine. So for a happy life
she dispenses power, wealth and knowledge to everyone.

She is the Mother of the world. Adi Sankara would say that the heart of a mother
wouldn't distinguish between her children, though the children might themselves be

Just thinking about her would remove the fear of death. It is not necessary to
decorate her feet and worship her; just thinking about her in mind would do to get
her grace.

To face difficulties in life, the fear must go. She was one who destroyed those who
terrified the three worlds. Once the fear is gone, she would foster our thoughts and
guide them to good knowledge. She would also ensure that poverty does not strike
the people. MarkaNdeya Purana adores her as, "o, Durga maa, you remove the fear
by just remembering your name and give good intellect to healthy people; there is
nobody other than you who removes poverty, unhappiness, and fear and always
ready to help all." ('durge samRutA harasi'--Durga Saptasati, MarkaNdeya Purana

Therefore, three days for the form of Durga who removes fear; three for Lakshmi
who removes poverty; and three for Sarasvati who grants knowledge. Thus it is a
distinction to celebrate and worship AmbaaL for nine days. Something said thrice is
deemed to be fulfilled. Vedas would say 'aum shAnti' thrice; similarly, the tradition
of having nine days to worship AmbaaL is meaningful.



Daily prArthanA and worship with saMkalpam

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Jan 10,2009, p39)

Que: When worshipping gods daily, can the prArthanA be done with a saMkalpam?

Ans: Gods can be prayed to and worshipped with a saMkalpam. The thought that
appears in mind, comes out in words and excels in action. That which does not
appear in mind would never come in words! The Veda says, "Words express what
the mind thinks, and the senses practise it."--note 1. The mind will plan and decide
about what task to be done by whom and how; and we would act accordingly!

The saMkalpam is a combination of four things: who takes it, what time, what
purpose and what form of action. Dharma Shastra says that doing something
without these four wouldn't get the desired effect. What the mind wishes should be
included in the saMkalpam. Even if there is no wish, the saMkalpam should indicate,
"to please God" (such as 'parameshvara prItyartam').

A karma has its phala (fruit). If the fruit is not desired, it should be offered to
Bhagavan. The tradition of offering the fruits of our karmas is still in vogue. ('mayA
anuSTitamidam karma aum tat sat brahmArpaNam'--note 2). Therefore, pray with a

*1. This seems to be a quote from the nRUsiMhatApinI upaniShad:

yanmanasa dhyAyati, tadvAcha vadati |

yadvAcha vadati, tatkarmaNa karoti |
yat karmaNa karoti, tadbhisampadyate ||

"As a man thinks in his mind, so is his speech; as he speaks, so does he conduct
himself; as is his conduct, so does he become."


*2. I can't trace the source of this mantra. Members may please help.




12 April 2009, 12:07 AM

mantra: mantra one quarter, mati three quarters?

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Oct 14,2008, p39)

Que: Our elders would say, "mantras one quarter, only mati (determination) form
three quarters (of our accomplishments)". If that be so, how to believe the mantras?

Ans: The medicine, doctor, patient and the nurse/compounder/pharmacist--only the

combined effect and efforts of all these four factors cure the disease of a patient.

The doctor has to select the medicine for the disease. Although it might be the best
medicine, he should prescribe the right time and dosage for it. (The
nurse/compounder/pharmacist should administer/customize the medication.) The
patient should take the medicine given. If one of these four factors is in error, the
cure would not be accomplished. Of these four, the doctor is the most important. If

all the other three factors are one-fourth, the doctor is three-fourths.--It is thus
Ayurveda describes the importance of the doctor and his responsibility.

The vAchakam (saying) you mention is one such. If mantras form a quarter of an
effort, our intelligent action should form three-fourths. Then that effort will be
successful. One that helps the efforts is the mantra!

A person uses own thoughts to get clarity of the lessons learnt from a teacher; also
consults friends to clear doubts; in due course, the study is completed when the
experience in life too joins the efforts of learning. So if the teacher's share in
imparting knowledge is one quarter, the other three quarters are from one's own
efforts. Can we say then that the teacher is not necessary?

The mantras are necessary; also the sharpness of intelligence and the intensity of
efforts! The mind that chants the mantra stands focussed on one thing, so our
efforts would excel by it!

Prahlada's mind ruminated on NarAyaNa nAmam. His practice that was blended in
God's initiative gave the results. It was only the quarter share of mantra that
motivated him to act; focussed his mind without creating other digressive thoughts;
thereby the three-fourths of his efforts excelled!

Although good luck may be seen in one's horoscope, it wouldn't arrive on its own.
Luck is only a quarter share; to make it happen the three-fourth share of efforts are

Only a seed becomes a tree, but the land has to be thoroughly ploughed, the seed
and plant watered and there must be sunlight for the growth of the plant. If the
seed is a quarter share the other factors are three quarters.

The fruits contained in a mantra is like the ghee in milk, oil in the sesame seed. So
the mantra is one-fourth and our efforts to derive its fruits three-fourths!

Therefore one should understand that the saying "mantras one quarter, only mati
three quarters' only explains that the fruits of the mantras are obtained to the
extent of our efforts.


Beliefs: Sighting the drumstick tree on getting up

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Oct 14,2008, p41)

Que: Some people say that the drumstick tree should not be sighted when getting
up from bed in the morning?

Ans: The drumstick (horse-radish) tree is mostly planted at a distance from the
house, in a place which is not normally sighted readily, with an eye on health

The drumstick raw fruit is needed, and also the problems that arise out of growing
the tree must be avoided. Brown caterpillars with woolen hair infest the tree and
cause skin irritations if they come in contact with it. So our ancestors acted with
caution and wisdom!

Despite these precautions, if one happens to sight the drumstick tree as the first
thing on getting up in the morning, there would be nothing wrong with that.

Look at the palms of both of your hands when you get up in the morning. After this,
you might look at anything else. Don't get confused with baseless tidings.


dharma: atithi bhojanam: feeding before eating

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Apr 09,2009, p36)

Que: "One should have the meal only after giving atithi bhojanam (food to guests)."
Many sages including Kanchi Paramacharya have said it. Is it possible to implement
this in today's circumstances?

Ans: The Veda that recommends feeding a guest goes a step further and says,
"One who takes food without feeding others takes only sin." ("kevalAkobhavati

'atithi upachAram' (service to guests) is the tradition of our Bharat. It is the advice
of the Vedas that the natural wealths are common to all beings, so the share one
gets of them also belongs to other beings, and therefore one should share them,
such as feeding a guest before taking a meal.

The growth of civilization today does not impede the arrival of guests. If a guest
knows that he/she would get food, the person would surely visit the house! Large
crowds can be seen in place where annadAnam is held. There would be no dearth of
guests in places like Dharmasthala. ("bhojana syAdaro rasaH").

In case an atithi is not found--the Dharma Shastra has a solution for that too.
Before adding rice to boiling water for cooking it, drop a small portion of it into the
fire that cooks the rice. This would amount to feeding Agni, the pratinidhi
(representative) of the Devas. After the rice is cooked, give some annam to the
crows, considering the crow as the representative of living beings, and this would
get merits.

If there is no traditional oven, no traditional method of cooking the rice and no crow
would arrive--in such a predicament, pray God with all your heart pleading that the
circumstances prevent you from doing your dharma; and the fruits of having given
atithi bhojanam would be obtained.




13 April 2009, 10:04 PM

Temples: Night abhiShekam, PerumAL temple, Malaysia

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Apr 09,2009, p37)

Que: I am a resident of Malaysia. In the PerumAL Kovil here, abhiShekas are

performed at night. Is this correct?

Ans: There might be changes in the services to God depending on Agama, Dharma
Shastra, Sthala PurANa, historical events, SampradAyam (tradition) and local
customs. In certain temples there would be no abhiShekam at all to the deity made
of wood. In certain other temples, abhiShekam may not be given the preference but
done only on visheSha (special) days. There are temples where the abhiShekam is
done only in the morning.

Contrary to the regulations, in certain temples, the abhiSheka ArAdhana is done

according to the wishes of the devotees too.

Some temples have become commercial centres due to changes in the social
thinking. They install a hundi, collect money and perform visheSha pUjas, special
ArAdhanas and thereby increase their economy giving employment to many people.
Once it becomes commercial, it is natural that their affairs do have a change. So,
there is nothing wrong in performing abhiShekam at night!


Rearing elephants in temples

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Apr 09,2009, p39)

Que: Are there any special reasons for rearing elephants in temples?

Ans: AlayAs are not sanctuaries for animals and birds! But then in order that milk is
available without any hitch for deity abhiShekam, cows are reared in temples.
Similarly, to take the deity on procession during festival times, some temples rear

Where elephants are readily available for festive processions, it is not necessary to
rear them in temples. It would then be best to hire an elephant instead of creating a
burden in the temple administration by rearing it in the temple.


Dreams: Seeing birds and animals

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Apr 09,2009, p39)

Que: I had a dream in which a kite (eagle) entered my house. Is it good or not to
see birds and animals in dreams?

Que: I had a dream wherein I saw nine tigers entering my house. Seeing tigers in
certain numbers, what could it indicate? What could be the fruits of such dreams?

Ans: Dreams are not reality. They come and go like streaks of lighning!

'Dreams are an indication of deficiency in health' opines the Ayurveda. According to

psychology, dreams are expressions of a weary mind. The Dharma Shastra (Svapna
Shastra) says that dreams are indicative of things to happen in future. According to
JyotiSha (astrology), dreams mark the beginning of the action of karma.

That which is not there can't creating anything real; sat cannot grow from asat; and
a shadow cannot become the object!

Take bath at dawn and pray to God. The opposite effects would move away.
Thinking about the dream attributing some reality to it could cause problems.

When the body takes rest, the mind should also sleep. If the mind sleeps too, there
would be no dreams. Find out ways for it and peace would be certain to obtain!




15 April 2009, 11:22 PM

Spiritual benefits of the darbha grass

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Apr 09,2009, p41)

Que: We perform the yajnas wearing kUrcham, pavitram made of the darbha grass.
What is the speciality?

Ans: When practising the Dharma Shastra, darbha (pavitram) should be worn on
the hand. 'pavitram' means purity! So the darbha grass by nature is pure. So the
Veda says that pavitram stands for the darbha grass. (pavitram vai darbhAH).

When doing japam and dAnam, we should remain darbhapANi. Just as water will
not stick to a lotus leaf, so would not pApam stick to the person wearing darbha,
says the Dharma Shastra. (vibhyate nasapApena padma patra mivAmpasA). The
invisible rAkShasas who try to prevent our doing japam and yajnam would run away
from seeing the darbha. In the ArAdhana of ancestors, to drive away the evil forces,
it is customary to wipe the floor where the meal is served, with darbha grass.

Like shUlam of God Shankara, chakram of God VishNu, Shastra recommends the
weapon pavitram for people doing their dhArmic duties. With just a glance at the
darbha grass, it is said, that the evil forces such as bhUta, pishAcha and
brahmarAkshas would run away! So the darbha must be worn for purity as well as
to remove hurdles. We call the finger that wears the darbha, pavitra viral (the finger
of purity).

To minimize the AkarShaNa shakti of bhUmi it is customary to sit on an Asana made

of darbha. This seat also minimizes any ill effects from the AkAsha. (darbheshu
AsanaH). The darbha is also used to purify the items used in a ritual. Although agni
by itself is pure, darbha further strengthens its purity.

On the kumbha, the seat of devatas, the kUrcham would be there. The arghyam
offered to the pitrus is also linked with the kUrcham. The purity of substances is
heighted when they are linked with darbha. The darbha grass does not conduct
electricity, and is also more powerful. We know the story of how a missle of darbha
grass that Sri Rama threw at KAkAsura, drove him away running all the way back!
The Purana says, "A snake licked the ghee that fell on darbha; and the darbha grass
punished it by cutting its tongue into a wedge." Varahamitra says the place where
darbha grass grows is good for digging a well for water. To sum up, darbha is
Nature's gift to us! Read the Dharma Shastras to learn about its greatness: and you
will be impressed!


Temple puja timings: how they are decided

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Apr 24,2009, p36)

Que: Seven kAla pUjas are said to be performed for Chidambaram Sri NatarAja?
How are the puja timings decided?

Ans: In temples, (usually) four kAla pUjas are performed: in the morning, noon,
sunset time and midnight. There are temples that stop with just the morning (one
kAla) puja!

There are eight yAmas in a day of 24 hours: four during daytime and four during
nighttime, each yAma being of 3 hours. The udayAstamayana (sunrise, sunset)
worships are done during the time of four yAmas of the day. On festive days like the
ShivarAtri, four kAla pUjas will be held during the four yAmas of the night.

On the vrata (fasting) days of RuShi panchami, pradoSham, four kAla pujas will be

The worship timings in temples are determined based on the Agama and tradition.
Even among these temples, there are some whose puja timings are different.
Chidambaram Sri NatarAja temple is one such. We can also welcome temples that
have special traditional distinctions that are different from the general regulations.

Worships are also held, diving the time between sunrise and sunset into five parts
as prAtaH (morning), sangavaH (forenoon), madhyAnaH (noon), aparAnnaH
(afternoon), and sAyam (evening).

In the month of MArgazhi, early morning visheSha pUjas will be held. Distinctive
night worship is done during days that include annAbhiShekam, ArudrA darshanam,
vaikuNTha ekAdashi, shrI kRuShNa jayanti. The uchchi kAla (noon time) worship is
held during Sri RamaNavami. The festive times are usually decided as
recommended by the Agamas.


Sri Sathyanarayana Puja: kalasha tIrtham

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Apr 24,2009, p37)

Que: Can the kalasha tIrtham (water from the pitcher) offering during Sri
Sathyanarayana Puja in places such as a MaTham, be sprinkled in our homes too?

Ans: Yes, very well. But it is best to do Sri Sathyanarayana Puja at home. It would
be appropriate to sprinkle the tIrtham in the home where the puja is held.

It is not as proper to have the Puja at one place and the sprinkling at another.
Develop the eligibility to perform the Puja at your own house. Is it not better to
perform the Puja at home than watch it performed in a Matham? If the Puja is done
at home, the prosperity would swell and the aishvaryam (wealth) would flourish!




26 April 2009, 09:28 PM

Broken image in a temple sanctum

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Apr 24,2009, p37)

Que: The mUlavar amman vigraham (image of the main deity, Mother) in the
sanctum sanctorum of a temple is shithila (damaged). So they do puja to a
panchaloka vigraham in its place. Is this alright?

Ans: If an image in the sanctum sanctorum of a temple is bhinna (broken), that

defect should be rectified and kumbAbhiShekam conducted.

There is sannidhyam (divine presence) in the panchaloka vigraham too. So, it is not
wrong to keep it in the sanctum and do puja to it. But then it is not also proper to
leave the damaged image of the main deity as it is and do puja to the subsituted
panchaloka vigraham.

The main image should be kept in a pAlAlayam (temporary shelter during

renovation of a shrine), its damage rectified, kumbAbhiShekam performed and
thereby the sannidhyam restored to the image. Until such time, puja can be
performed to the panchaloka vigraham. The rectification/replacement of the main
image should not be delayed for years inordinately. A ShivAcharya should be
approached and his recommendations implemented for best results.


Do Shiva's sportive plays reduce his yogic status?

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Apr 24,2009, p39)

Que: God Shiva is one who is always immersed in yoga. The Purana says that he
burnt Manmathan (god of love). If that be the case, we can't accept his ordinary
human acts as narrated in some Puranic incidents? Is the IshA one who can't control
his mind?

Ans: Those who take on the role of a character of a play won't express their true
nature in their acts. Once a person lets go the play, he would not become an actor
in his real life.

When Shiva was an actor, he carried loose earth for the wages of pudding. When
he was svayam (his own nature), he consumed the AlakAla poison and saved the
world. Sri Krishna tended the cows when he was an actor; when he was his own
Self, he blessed us with the Gita.

Sriman Narayana when he appeared as Sri Rama, was immersed in sorrow when
Sita was separated from him. Sri Krishna born in the Yadava Kulam submitted to his
foster mother YashodhA; and took on the insults of SishupAla. Tbus, God's nature
differs according to the role he plays in the drama of life.

Since God has something that the ordinary man does not have, He can act in
whatever way that pleases him. This is not a shortcoming in him, only distinction!


Home puja: women's chores

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Apr 24,2009, p41)

Que: Is it right for women to grind sandal paste and ring the bell in a home puja?

Ans: Women have priority in the chores of service to God. These chores would give
them Atma lAbham (spiritual gain). Women naturally possess the quality of doing
the chores without kopa-tApam (anger and heat). Women in these days are given
priority in doing certain services and their related chores: we find that their role is
more in the care of diseased persons and in baby-sitting the children.

Grinding the sandal paste and ringing the bell are the tasks of the person who
performs the puja. If that person can't do these things, and women volunteer for
them, it would be courteous to welcome them do those tasks.




28 April 2009, 07:38 PM

hari o

Namast saidevo,

Can you be so kind as to add information on the 3 debts a brahmin ( and or others)
are born with? i.e. to discharge their debt to their father ( pit or ancestors ) , the
seer-s ( or teachers) and the devat.

It may be in this string, yet I did not see it.




03 May 2009, 01:23 AM

Namaste Yajvan.

Debts to PitRus are covered under various posts in the form of questions and
answers, but not all the three debts. Since the topic is large, I have opened a new

Hindu SamskAra Regulations: Three Debts of the Twice-Born

Thank you for the motivation and please feel free to add what I have left out, with
your usual explanations of the roots of Sanskrit terms and phrases.



11 June 2009, 09:39 PM

Home puja: what is upAsanam?

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Sep 28,2008, p90)

Que: Some people are known as devi upAsakA, Anjaneya upAsaka; what is
upAsanam? How to obtain upAsakam?

Ans: upAsanam is worshipping a specific deity by body, mind and words, after
being attracted by the deity's form and then treating that sacred form as
Parabrahman. In other words, upAsanam is worship of a specific god-form with
united mind, that worship being born of faith in the form.

Deiva UpAsanam would help us perfect our birth. Sages would describe it as a path
to liberation. Yes, the upAsakA becomes fit for God's grace, being immersed in the
feeling that whatever happens is God's will.

Tantra ShAstra is the basis for upAsanas. It describes the way to worship and the
mantra for a specific deity. One can become a upAsakA by getting upadesham from
a suitable guru, of the mUla mantra of the specific deity one desires to worship.


Eating Siamese twins bananas

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Sep 28,2008, p90)

Que: Can we eat the twin banana fruits that are joined like the Siamese twins?

Ans: Do we ignore any twin children born like the Siamese twins? No! So, eating
Siamese twins bananas is no harm.

Not everyone has twins for children, only some have. It would be difficult to rear
the twins if they are born joined to each. Based on this fact, the saying that eating
Siamese twins bananas could get you similar twins for children has cropped up in
the villages.

There is another saying among the rustics: if a woman wears flowers worn by
another woman, she would get only a married man for husband. Dharma ShAstras
have no sanction for such news and beliefs.

Some people are born with joined fingers; some have six fingers. These are
considered as signs of luck or misfortune. In the same way, people born with squint
eyes are ridiculted by some and praised by some others. There are no individual
effects for such changes that happen at birth. It's the same with the twin bananas,
so there is no need to avoid eating them; or seek them out to eat!


Home puja: using flower petals for archanA

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Aug 30,2008, p27)

Que: Can flowers be torn into their petals and the archanA to pictures of deities
done with those petals?

Ans: The archanA should be done with the thought, 'this flower is soft, so is your
sacred feet, and my heart is also soft. I offer my soft heart that has a mixture of
desire and devotion, to your feet.' If the mind is immersed in devotion, it won't
indulge in such unnecessary research.

Anyway, the flowers like sAmandhi (chamomile), shangkha puShpam (conchshaped blue/white flower), techchi, pArijAtam (coral flower) should be used in full,
without tearing them into petals. But there is nothing wrong in converting large
flowers like the lotus, chemparutthi (large, red flowers), and the tAzhampU (screw
pine flower).

When flowers are in shortage, one would think of using their petals. However, in
such circumstances, the akShata can be used for archanA. If the akShata falls short,
one can use kumkumam. Even if that falls short, one may just do the archanA,
chanting Bhagavan's name. Thus, it is not necessary to create an artificial shortage
of an archanA item and use it improperly.




05 July 2009, 12:56 AM

Early morning kolam and lamps

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Aug 16,2008, p20)

Que: I worship God by getting up daily at early morning, taking bath, drawing a
'kolam' at the threshold of the home, light two 'ahal lamps' over it, also light a
'kutthu viLakku' at the home puja spot and worship God. Some people say that I
should not light a lamp when some of the household people are still sleeping. Is that

Ans: Nothing wrong in your doing your duty. When doing duty, ignore such

Early morning is not the time for sleeping; and those who sleep then are at fault, so
it is they who must correct their wrong habit. Ayurveda says that one should avoid
sleeping in the early morning for continued good health. So you continue your duty
and let them correct their wrong habit.


Physical disabilities God's punishment?

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Aug 16,2008, p22)

Que: Is sharIra UnaM (bodily disability) a punishment by God?

Ans: God is paripUrNan, one who is supremely complete in all aspects and respects.
He won't give anyone any handicap. It is only our bad karma that gets us the
punishment due.

Ayurveda says that any deficiency in the parents' shukraM, shroNitaM (sperm, egg)
could be the reason for the child's handicap.

The opinion of the Dharma Shastra is that the bad karmic acts performed in earlier
births fructify in the current birth as handicaps.

The book karma vibhAgaM says that a specific karmic act is the reason for a
specific bodily deficiency. Sinful acts would rule over body parts and make us suffer
the misery, says the Veda.

Our acts are the reason for our misery. It is the same with handicap. Children with
good sight are born to blind parents and healthy children with no handicap are born
to a parent with a handicap. The child of a dump person would talk very well! Thus,
even if a person is handicapped, his semen/egg could be healthy, resulting in good
and healthy progeny.


Home puja: Divine horoscopes and Vastu portrait

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Aug 16,2008, p23)

Que: Can the divine horoscopes of Sri Rama and Sri KrishNa and the portrait of
Vastu Bhagavan be kept in the puja room?

Ans: There would be horoscopes only for people with a birth and death. The
horoscope helps to know the karma done in the previous birth.

Sri Rama and Sri KrishNa are avatars of God. They don't need any horoscopes. They
planned and pre-arranged the happenings in their lives and went through them
accordingly. To compute a horoscope for these gods and give predictions based on
them are against the 'jyotiSha shAstra'. A horoscope should not be changed into a
puja article.

There is no necessity to worship Vastu Bhagavan, keeping him in the puja room.
This is because he is present on the very earth we walk through. When we pray to
the land in the morning we include him in our prayer, since he is merged with the




10 July 2009, 10:35 PM

Is the 'audumbara' tree there on earth now?

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Aug 1,2008, p37)

Que: Is the 'audumbara' tree mentioned in the PurANAs there on earth now?

Ans: Only the country fig tree (Ficus racemosa) is called the 'audumbara' tree. This
tree is commonly found everywhere; while its raw fruits are visible, its flower is not
commonly seen. Ayurveda explains the medicinal features of this tree. The spoon
made of the wood of the 'audumbara' tree is used to pour ghee in the Vedic fire
oblations. The fig tree has the distinction of having been introduced by the Vedas.

1. The term 'audumbarAya', meaning 'very strong and mighty' is an attribute
applied to Yama, the god of death, in the 'yama vandanam' part of the 'sandhyA

2. In Ayurveda, the "audumbara bhasma" is used to maintain the good effects of

planet Venus. If Venus is placed well in the horoscope, it leads to attractiveness,
grace, elegance and long life. The use of the "audumbara bhasma" makes an
individual refined with humanitarian qualities.

When Venus is ill-placed in the horoscope, it leads to vanity, corruption, lack of

taste and refinement and ageing and the "audumbara bhasma" is used to remove
these effects of Venus. (

3. The five trees 'bilva' (wood-apple, Aegle marmelose), 'shamI' (vanni, Acacia
ferruginea), 'ashvattha' (peepal, Ficus religiosa), 'nimba' (margosa/neem,
Azadirachta indica) and 'audumbara' (country fig, Ficus racemosa) are known as the

'panchavaTI' trees. In another version, the 'panchavaTI' trees refer to 'banyan, fig,
gooseberry (amla/nelli), bhilva and ashoka' trees.

4. Indian villages used to have a large, round, raised platform built around the
'panchavaTI' trees where religious and other village meetings were held. These
trees purified the air people who sit under them breathed. The 'panchavaTI' trees
have been a source of inspiration for our sages.

5. Legends tell us that Lord Dattatreya dwells in this tree and thus it is regarded as
a sacred tree.

6. Wikipedia has detailed articles on these trees.


Women and 'anga pradakShiNa'

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Aug 1,2008, p37)

Que: Can women do 'anga pradakShiNa' in temples?

Ans: They can. Except for the bodily features there is no difference between men
and women.

'jyotiSham' when it gives the 'phala' (results), first gives them for men and then
says, "all these 'phala' are also applicable for women', and then proceeds to give
specific 'phala' for women.

So far as worldly actions go, there is no distinction between men and women in the
Dharma ShAstras. Both PrahlAda and MIrA are known for their devotion. PurANAs
say that even animals like the elephant and snake who lack the sixth sense can
approach God. It is the mind that determines the action of 'bhakti'. There is

information that both KaNNappa NAyanAr and ShabarI first tasted the food items
they offered to God. Thus, when devotion is high, gender differences disappear.

Nevertheless, since the nature of womanliness is being soft and tender, the society
of those days hesitated to included them in hard tasks. During a journey, the
husband would carry the heavy luggage while the wife would carry light and easy
things such as the 'water-monkey' (portable water vessel with a lid, 'kUjA' in Tamil).
While hard tasks like ploughing, cutting wood, digging wells would be vested with
men, easy tasks such as planting the saplings, carrying bricks, sand and cement
mixture would be allotted to women. Such distinction is only an expression of

Same way with prayers, which might assume different forms reflected by peoples'
preferences. However, there won't be any difference in their 'phala'. We should
select our methods of worship and prayer based on hygiene and the Dharma
ShAstras and not to establish any right of equality.

Our culture is one that adores femininity. Therefore it would be elegant to insist on
and compete for tasks and thinks that heighten the state of femininity.




16 July 2009, 11:12 PM

Moving turmeric Ganesha image to north after puja

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Jul 17,2008, p28)

Que: After the Ganapati Puja is finished, they say that the turmeric image of
Ganesha should be moved to north. Why?

Ans: Only that?

During marriage, the bridegroom should sit facing north.

During the ancestor worship, we should sit facing only north.

While doing 'shubha kArya' (auspicious rites) the three-stringed holy thread should
hang from the left shoulder (that faces north).

During a 'yajna', the related things should be kept at north.

After praying, "I worship the devas for my elevation", the remaining 'akShata' and
'darbha' grass held in the hand should be dropped at north.

After finishing worship, one should raise and move towards north.

The 'paradeshi kola payaNam' (pretended travel of the bridegroom disguised as a

mendicant) during marriage should be towards north.

The 'Achamanam' should be done facing north.

GayA is located in the north; so during ancestral rites, this sacred place would be
kept in mind and the 'kartA' would take a few steps towards north.

While serving food, the placing of items should end at north.

While we lie down we should stretch our legs towards north; by this our hygiene
would be guarded.

The Vedas should be chanted sitting one leg crossed over the other, and the leg at
the top should face north, says the ShAstra.

Thus, there are many instances of giving important to the direction North!

The sacred place kAshi (VaraNasi) and the Meru Mountain are in the north. It is the
PurAnic saying that Meru is located North of the whole world. The device that
indicates direction always has its pointer towards north, in whatever direction one
turns it. Thus it is only North that introduces the other directions!

That our acts relating to our progress should be concluded in north is the teaching
of our Dharma ShAstra. Therefore, in order that our progress continues, it is
significant that we move the Ganesha image towards north after the puja is


Can death be sensed earlier?

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Jul 17,2008, p29)

Que: Can 'maraNam' be sensed earlier?

Ans: BhIShmar embraced 'maraNam' the way he wanted it to happen. He

postponed dying until the time of UttarAyaNam. Dasharatha knew that Sri Rama's

separation would give him death. King ParIkShit also knew that as soon as those
seven days were over, his death would happen.

Death is certain for one that is born. Vedas bless us to live for a hundred years.
JyotiSham (astrology) gives us a life span of 120 years. Dharma ShAstra tells us the
way to conquer 'maraNam'.

Adi Sankara says, "Don't suffer getting stuck in the swirl of death and birth; listen, I
shall tell you a way out of it." Even the Creator has a limit to his life says the
PurANas. The seed sprouts, grows, flowers, bears raw and ripe fruits, withers and
dies. This state is there for man too. 'maraNam' is the matured stage of growth; it is
a compulsion of time.

Ayurveda indicates the pointers to death that can be sensed behorehand.

JyotiSham determines the time of death. The diseases that crop up in our body too
would indicate us the possible time of our death. One who is bedridden (for the last
time) would realize the separation of each and every atom from his body; this would
be followed by the separation of the soul. Some specific dreams, things appearing
distorted, wailing saying the names of forefathers, seeing something else instead of
a specific thing--such incidents are indicators that death is nearby, says Ayurveda. It
introduced a chapter called 'ariShTAdhyaya' for this purpose.

We should act with the thought 'I have no death, I am siranjIvi (immortal)'. Then our
mind would give up its 'chAnchalyaM' (unsteadiness), concentrate on the act and
make us excel says the Dharma ShAstra.

So, don't keep thinking about death. Let it come when it may, forget it.


Happenings with a reason are not omens

(Sri Seshadrinatha SastrigaL, Sakthi Vikatan dated Jul 17,2008, p31)

Que: One evening I went to the Nemilichcheri Sri AgattIshvara temple. There, when
I was having darshan of Sri MahA Ganapati, the sandal paste stuck to his forehead
came off and dropped to the floor. Is this a good 'shakunam' (omen)?

Ans: The sandal paste that was stuck in the morning could have come off and
dropped down. It is a mistake to view this as a 'shakunam'. If the drop of the sandal
paste was not seen by your eyes your mind would not have been confused.

Happenings with a reason cannot be considered as 'shakunam'. In the month of

KArtigai we would light a lamp at the threshold. If the fame goes off when the wind
blows, would we call it a 'shakunam'? The flame should go off when the wind blows
heavily! It is possible that the 'prasAdam' we get, slips and falls to the ground in the
rush of people. In the same way, the 'nivedanam' could drop to the floor when we
take it out from the stove. When a coconut is broken for puja, it might slip from our
hands and fall down. We should not include in 'shakunas' such things that happen
due to lack of care.

You are going out; coming over to the entrance of your house you look up and see a
GarudA bird flying. That is 'shakunam'! Thus, what happens unexpectedly is a
'shakunam'. Therefore be at peace without confusing your mind by imagining
worthless things.



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