Monday, July 25, 2011

Nitya Karma...

The word Nitya Karma means karma that recurs. It need not occur daily.
Of these things except the rituals concerning the manes others are done only by a few. We can see all those things and then discuss about the 40 samskaras.
Among the rituals concerning the manes most do the tharpana ritual on the new moon day . But there are 96 such dates on which the ritual is to be done. They are called shannavati tharpana.

Even the new moon day tharpana is in lieu of sradhdha. When the 96 tharpanas are rare what to say of 96th days of sradhdhda?
Any way let us list the ninety six days.
The first of the of the year – 1
(also known as yugadi)
The first day of Ayana. -2
(ayana are two; the northern sojourn of the sun is uththarayana, the southern sojourn of the sun is dhakshnayana.)
The First day of solar month - 12
The new moon days -12
manvathi -14
(These are days when the manvantharas started.)
First days of the four yugas. -4
(These are days when the yugas started mentioned as the lunar calendar days:
Vaikasi, shukla paksha 3rd day – krutha yuga started.
Karthika, shukla paksha ninth day – thretha yuga started.
Pathrapatha (Purattaasi) krisna paksha 13 th day dwapara yuga started.
Magha fullmoon day kali yuga started)

poorvedhyu, anvastaka, ashtaka – 12
(These are the eighth days of the waning moon, the days before and after that occurring in the hemantha and sisira ruthus.)
Mahalaya paksha – 15
Vytheepatha -12
Vaidhruthi -12
In addition to these two days in a year related to the parents. (the death anniversaries)
That makes it ninety six.

It is said that those who do the rituals on the yugadi and manvadi days satisfy the manes for 2000 years.

Some elders who know of things say that many of the problems that people face arise from the fact that the rituals concerning the manes is not done properly.

In these rituals there is a procedure that helps people who are barren. Not many people know of this.
Apart from these things are or what are called kamya sradhdhaa. These are done desiring something for which we are seeking the blessings of our ancestors.
The things desired can be swarga, progeny – boy or girl, ojas, lands, strength, something special, saubhagya, disease free life, growth of wealth etc.
These are listed by yagnavalkya. He also mentions the date, days and yoga etc. on which to do the rituals like these. Those who desire can search for it.
We are somehow slipped from daily rituals to rituals with desire.
In between there is something called naimithyakam. These arise in face of some special circumstances. For example if the hut of a agnihotri burns down a particular ishti is to be done.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

the evening and night.

Having having spent the afternoon looking after the affairs of the family we come to the evening rituals.Vyasa says that we should finish the evening surya upasana,(sandhya vandana) agni upasana and vaishvadevam. After supper one retires to bed.
The evening fire ritual -aupasanam- is equivalent to donating gold to that extent the several mountains; performing hundred Vajabeya yagna; or performing 10 million kanya dhana. Wow!

Some people do puja in the evening or night.

Before retiring to bed one should wash one's hands, feet and wipe them dry. Once should lie on the left side while sleeping. One should not lie with the head pointing north. Any other side is all right.
Those who sleep very well are agasthya, madhava, musukunta, kapila and astheeka. It is recommended that one thinks of these people while going to bed to ensure a good sleep. One should keep in a vessel of drinking water at the headend. One can also recite vedic mantra or garuda mantras to protect oneself.

If it is the proper season to get a good progeny one can visit the spouse. On other days if a natural urge prevails one can do so. It is said that no male can refuse a spouse if she desires sex. This is because they have been a boon from Indra. The Shastras prescribes certain things. Perhaps more appropriate to say proscribes - certain dates. If anybody observes this thing automatically only have a planned family!

Thus we come to the end of the karma is that one should be doing daily. It is said that one who observes all these things will obtain everything that he desires.

Friday, June 10, 2011

after food....

Having finished eating one should drink a little water and move away to wash hands (upto elbows), feet (upto knees) and mouth. One should rinse the mouth 18 times. (Do it; you will never get dental problems! My wisdom tooth was pulled out. The dentist asked me not to brush for four days but to gargle 18 times.) The water must be spit out to the left side.

Sage Gowthama advices to remember the King Saryati, his daughter Sukanya, the Risi Shyavana (yes, the shyavan prash is named after him as it is his formula) Lord Indra, aswins. (not the cricketer, but the celestial twins) and wet the eyes. Rubbing the eyes with the wet thumbs will prevent eye diseases. [All the above mentioned persons are linked by a story. I hope you know it!]

Good betle (piper betle) leaves along with a little lime and arecanut helps digestion. Taken on fridays it gives the benevolent looks of lakshmi!

On the other hand some people get into the habit of making a meal of it as well as snack out of it and they are sure to lose the longevity, intellect, strength, pragna and vitality. The tongue no longer can discriminate tastes.

One should walk 200 steps and then sit like a king and work.

The afternoon is the time for vedic recital (repetition),reading ithihasas, puranas and sastras.
Time can be taken off to attend to household works too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What can be eaten and what not?

What can be eaten and what not?

Some food items as a species are not good. Some are to be avoided as they do something bad to us. Some are time barred! Some are to be avoided due to their association. Some due to their inherent quality. Like this there are various ways why some food items are to be not partaken.

Onion, red 'drumsticks', garlic, (in short allium cepa family ) mushrooms, stem of lotus flower, suraikaay belong to the species of the plant kingdom that is to be avoided.
if someone with nasty thoughts look at food it becomes bad. Food cooked in oil and stored for a long time becomes bad.
'pazhaiya sORu' which is popular in tamil nadu is also objectionable.
Curd, honey don't become stale and fried eatables stay for a long time.
Food items cooked with alcohol and onion; milk from cow which delivered just within 10 days are bad due to association.
If a doubt arises whether a particular foodstuff can be eaten or not it is not to be eaten. This concept is called 'sahrulleham'.
Sage parasara proscribes white brinjal, resins from tress (the famous asofoetida is one such), milk of camel, goat; and 'temple properties' .
Food items from yava and wheat are not time barred ever. Except curd no food items gone sour can be consumed. (for emergencies such item can be washed and eaten)
At night time sour ginger, curd, cooked rice with gingely, gooseberry (amla) are to be avoided.
Some items are not to be brought together. Bronze vessel + coconut water / cane juice; copper vessel + curd/ milk; salt + milk, ghee.
Such combinations denature the food.
Ok, ok you say we don't want don'ts tell us do-s.
If a person has one of these in his stomach Lord Hari is near him: Tulsi, agaththi, gooseberry, soil (sundaikkaay).
He who eats anything uttering the words 'Narayana' reaches good worlds ultimately.

(I know that there will be a lot of objections to including onions and garlic in this list but what to do? It is said so in sastras! Personal tastes are health concerns (by western concepts) might clash with these ideas. Make your choice!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Food - do's and dont's

It is quite a while since i posted here and i sincerely apologise for it. I shall try to be more regular.
Usually one should not drink with a vessel from the left hand.. but here is an exception – while eating one can drink so while touching the plate with the right hand.
Salt, pickles, vegetables, ghee, oil, paayasam and rice should always be served with a ladle – not with hand. What has been fried in oil can be served with hand if need be. Fruits too can be served with hand. Any fruit or snacks must be served to children first and then to guests.
Ghee, honey, payasam, curd and fruits can be eaten with out leaving any remnants. Other things – a little at least must be left in the plates. (perhaps this was meant for the dogs and a few gypsy clans whose dharma it used to be to partake only the leftovers from the plates or leaves used to eat. Dogs exist still but the gypsies have taken another path of life.)
one should not eat while walking or standing. One should not be wearing a headdress; one should not sit facing south. In such cases the nourishment from the food will only go to the rakshashas.
While eating one does not touch the feet; one should not have the food in the hands and eat from it – I mean the entire food in hand; one does not sit on the cot and eat (the ants will visit?); one does not eat while in transit; one avoids eating with the footwear on the feet.
Fruits, semi fruits, roots, sugarcane are not to be eaten using teeth to tear them. (serve them pre split)
what slipped out from the plate is also not worth eating.
Of course one does not eat with a dirty hand, dirty body...when you sit and eat dont put out the lower limb straight. Dont let the mind wander on other things – like reading a book- while eating. One is supposed to enjoy eating!
When is one not supposed to eat? During the sandya (twilight time) pradosham, (daily evening from about an hour before sunset) after ten in the night, (of course assuming a sunset time of six o’clock,) in the dark without light.

What of contaminants?
If any ant, hair, worm are found the food surrounding it immediately should be removed and thrown away. After sprinkling a little water on the food one can continue eating. In case one realises the contaminant after putting the food in the mouth, one spits it out rinses the mouth with water, takes a little ghee and then continues with the eating.

How much to eat?
Simple, guided by one's hunger!
Well if some guidance is needed – for sanyasin 8 mouthfuls; for vanaprasthan 16; for gruhastha 32.

how many times a day?
The saying goes – one who eats once is a yogi; twice is a bhogi 9one who enjoys); thrice is a rogi (sick man)
Exceptions are made for some people – a brahmacary, agnihotri, bull, one who is doing samaveda recitation. Such people need a lot of energy and so there is no restriction.

Why am I writing about eating this much? It is the only karma that everyone still keep doing!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

'echchcil' ...

Now I have to talk about a concept that has no parallel and therefore I don't find a term for it in English. The nearest term is 'defile'.
It is called uchchishtam in samskrit and echchil in Tamil.
Though echchcil means saliva in English the whole concept of echchil is not there. Also some people explain it saying this is just good hygiene, but it is not entirely true!
When you sip a glass of water as your mouth comes in contact with the cup the water in it becomes echchil. It is then unfit for others to drink.... mmmm … actually for you too! (That is because in the previous post we saw that “what remains when food is put in waster should not come back to the plate” - this is something like that.) This cup needs to be washed before it can be reused.
You are eating and wanting a food item from a vessel reach out for it on the table and serve yourself.... well that vessel just now became echchil. Others cant not consume it. In row of people eating you get up and leave and all the food items in that row in every plate... it just became echchil.
Till one goes and washes his hands, legs upto knee and fore limbs up-to elbow; then does acamana he is not pure. He is …. yes, you guessed it right, echchil. Till then anyone who touches him also becomes echchil; they will have to wash themselves and do acamana.

Monday, April 25, 2011


{ I find that this post written days ago has escaped publishing by the blogger demon! :-) hence.....}

After the rice is served some water is taken in the right palm and letting it leak through fingers the plate is circumambulated clockwise and the rice is sprinkles with the remnant. Doing what is called paricheshanam is kula acara -not applicable universally. In this case the water for the three circumambulations (pradakshina in samskrit) must be taken separately. Another person should pour a little water in your hand and you partake it. Taking little rice - mixed with ghee, if you are used to taking ghee with food- without touching the teeth the rice is swallowed five times one each for each prana. This is what is called prana agnihotram. Again a little water poured by another person is partaken. At last, is one free after this to eat the rest of the food? Just a minute, a little food is placed on the ground to the right side as bali for yama, chitragupta, and prethas. (chitra bali). This is done if vaishvadevam is not been practiced.
Ok, now you can eat, (at last!) but there are some do's and dont's. (I knew it!)

Food should not scattered on the ground around the plate. One should not comment on the food. 'Annam na nindhyath' says the upanishad. One should not talk while eating. If one does so his lifetime will be shortened. An exception has been made for the gruhasta who sits with others to eat. He has to see other's plates and give suitable instructions to the wife.

One should take just what his mouth will hold. Once food is put in the mouth it should not come back to the plate. Therefore one should not take something take a bite off it and return it to the plate. Sound should not be made while drinking or eating. While a group of persons are eating together one should not get up and leave. If anyone does so, all should leave says the sastras. If there is a compulsion to leave one can split the row with a little water and then leave.

Most of these are followed as etiquette.