Sunday, 21 October 2007

Fundamental Rites

Swami Gulagulaananda said:

"The world is a stage, and you are the actors... So act; Be not a puppet"

How many of us do what we know, do what we understand, and do what we don't understand but yet know. We know many things, how to do what we do, but not all of s understand what exactly is the reason behind it. And the typical example I would like to quote for this is the rites of Brahmins, the practices of Hindus...

Many people denounce the things done by the people of yore, our ancestors, saying they used to believe in superstitions, blind belief, etc. That they used to do things without understanding. That's not true, and I strongly disagree with it. The people who originally started out with the customs, traditions and practices were not fools, were not idiots - Au contraire, they were brilliant, people of superior intelligence, and the people who denounce it without understanding it are the morons. Let's see a couple of examples.

The early Hindus used to wake up before sunrise and they used to mix cow dung with water and spread the slurry in front of their houses. This was done everyday, and a layman, any common person might think this is a stupid idea, why would you want to spread smelly stuff in front of your house, it stinks. Well, here's the actual scientific reason. The cow dung when mixed with water and spread in front of houses, splits in formaldehyde and on dissolving with water becomes formalin, due to the action of sun light - This is because the ultra violet rays in the sun's rays early morning is of higher magnitude and this causes this reaction. Formalin as you might already know is an antiseptic, kills germs. And this is used in hospitals extensively. This was the reason behind this practice. Not so strange now, is it? But people don't understand this, they either spread it after sun rise, which has no effect, or simply shun it. They are the real fools.

Similarly, the other customs too, such as taking a little bit of water and spreading it around your plate (or banana leaf as is the popular custom) twice, and only then beginning your meal. The reason for this is to avoid ants and other insects from getting into your food. Now, this is not really required, but however it's quite logical. Cows are considered holy in India, because in the past, the entire economy depended on cows, milk, ploughing, leather (after their death) and a lot more. The reason is very clear, what gives you a lot without asking anything in return, is truly great, is God.

I had been to a pooja (rite) recently, and when the food was being served, I found some people muttering some mantras, and only then they started with their food. I was wondering how many of them actually understood complex mantras and Sanskrit. I was sure 90% of them didn't know what they just uttered, whether they were invoking God, asking for world peace, or just a car - And I felt this was wrong, because even I, a Brahmin, is supposed to do all this - And I don't... The only reason for this is my ignorance of the meaning, and what I don't understand, I don't do. I shouldn't do. You might feel this to be wrong or weird, today you do this, tomorrow you might be asked to handle nuclear missiles - Awww come on, if you can say mantras today without understanding it, why can't you control nuclear missiles? Almost the same, except mantras don't kill people (unless you have a very bad voice). So if I also have to utter the holy verses, I should first learn them, the meanings, the reason, I mean, not only the mantras, but also the rites, customs and traditions from the logical point of view, from the practical points, as were originally meant, not just for the heck of it... Like the puppet as Swami has mentioned above. Don't believe and accept something just like that, try to find out the meaning of it...

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