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Brahminical conundrum: Tradition vs Modernity

Mani_Chennai

Active member
The question is not if every thing is universal. Can every one follow these ideas. Brahmins who lived at the mercy of Kings, Jamindars etc., or on their own in the forests followed all these ideals. No one else had the time or luxury to be poor and wanted to do all these. Vaishya went after money as the first step, Kshatriyas went after protecting the society, the body power people went to protect the whole society. So, when the society evolved with a few people (average life was less than 40 years or so), people who lived sixty years were thought be blessed, hence the 60th birthday celebration, then 80th and then 100the, but none after 100+. So, we followed them as a cultural tradition to make our life a little bit happier. Most festivals was to have a good, sweet meal. Today, if you have money you can have daily Deepavali or Vinayaka Chaturdi, but for poor still these festivals are the only way that they can expect a really enjoyable meals. In villages (75% in India) that is why celebrations are important. So, in cities they get bookish learning not our heritage, genetic inheritance, importance of relationship, extended families, merging of families with marriage and all other cultural aspects. COVID should show them the need to understand our culture. Whether they believe in our rituals or not, the familial and societal consequences will be there. When they become old, rituals give them a co-op mechanism -visiting temple but getting walking benefits for the duration of three rounds around the perimeter of the temple, meeting old friends and feeling being part of a living world, to share and care, to teach old learned techniques and so on. But each generation has to learn, document and make the younger generation to understand the significance and benefit. I have seen some US born Indian boys worshiping grand parents. When I asked them, they said we are thanking them for bringing up our parents in a nice way, we remain vegetarians, we follow rituals but also understand them part of cultural anthropology, we get the love and care from our grand parents. Thus, to dismiss the rituals without knowing the significance is the failure of the parents and not on the system. Your view appears to disown the ignorance of understanding all our values hidden in these rituals. Educated and informed parents will know how to teach respect for elders in our culture as a worship of the earned wisdom, not found in text books. That is why, in the west people are searching for their roots. With genetic problems, it is important to know about our extended family (may for a later cure etc.) and our systems, discarding offensive part. Please use inductive reasoning and not a deductive algorithmic reasoning to understand our culture.
 

sravna

Well-known member
Let's discuss this not as a conundrum to Brahmins alone but to anyone who wants to lead a dharmic life.

What is a dharmic life? I believe the simplest approach is live in accordance with what our conscience tells us. Conscience is both a timeless aspect of mind in essence but conditioned by realities of one's current birth, which are approved and acceptable.

So it is my belief that there is an external àspect also to one's conscience. If we go by the way of conscience I think the dharmic requirements will be satisfied.

The next question is, how practical and applicable is this solution in current times? I think it is a workable one if we approach it in the right way. Inner wise I think the aspect antagonistic to conscience is our ego. So I think if we are able to rein in our ego which is by no means an easy task, we can let our conscience function properly and powerfully and act in accordance with it.

Ego is something like a veil over our conscience. It is a stupendous task to totally lift it but even if we make sincere efforts in that direction very fruitful results can be achieved. The will to achieve is as important as the process of achieving.
 

renuka

Gold Member
Gold Member
Let's discuss this not as a conundrum to Brahmins alone but to anyone who wants to lead a dharmic life.

What is a dharmic life? I believe the simplest approach is live in accordance with what our conscience tells us. Conscience is both a timeless aspect of mind in essence but conditioned by realities of one's current birth, which are approved and acceptable.

So it is my belief that there is an external àspect also to one's conscience. If we go by the way of conscience I think the dharmic requirements will be satisfied.

The next question is, how practical and applicable is this solution in current times? I think it is a workable one if we approach it in the right way. Inner wise I think the aspect antagonistic to conscience is our ego. So I think if we are able to rein in our ego which is by no means an easy task, we can let our conscience function properly and powerfully and act in accordance with it.

Ego is something like a veil over our conscience. It is a stupendous task to totally lift it but even if we make sincere efforts in that direction very fruitful results can be achieved. The will to achieve is as important as the process of achieving.
Hi Sravna,

Good to see you back in Forum.
Kindly contrubute like before.
 

Nemmara Pattar

New member
Sri Rudra Maha writes:-

"When us Brahmins who are supposed to lead the way have gone behind material pursuits, what’s the point in lamenting of children going astray in life. Met many people at a crowd. All old people with kids abroad, but none of them are happy with their children’s choices of their spouses, life etc. What’s stopping such people to voice out their opinions loudly rather than being hypocritical to their own kids?"

These same recurring concerns have been raised before. They appear to encapsulate issues of personal perplexity, disillusionment, despondency, despair, leading sometimes to a confession of inadequacy and helplessness. It is a life-challenge we face, not a mere puzling dilemma. It is a battle for survival, for self-preservation.

To seek viable solutions can we please try to go back to our roots a little?

We are not a born-yesterday, die-tomorrow community. We have our Vedams, smrithis, puraanams. We have rules of conduct which are valid even today.

"sathyam vada; dharmam chara" (speak the truth; perform your assigned duties and responsibilities) commands our Krishna Yajur-veda Taittireeya Upanishad Cap. I, v. 19. It goes on to adjure, "maathru devo bhava; pithru devo bhava, aachaarya devo bhava, adithi devo bhava" (treat your mother as divine, your father as divine, your spiritual preceptor as divine, your guest under your roof as divine) Cap I. v. 20.

The Vedams and the principles, the teachings, and the philosophies contained therein form the bedrock of our culture, our civilisation, our way of life, our raison d'etre, the very cause of our existence as humans, as Indians, as Hindus, as Braahmanas.

These Vedams were not composed yesterday or the day before.

Kishkinda-kaandam of Vaalmeeki's epic, the Ithihaasa-puraana Raamaayanam, has a passage in which Sree Raamachandra, the sixth and human manifestation on Earth of Lord Sree Mahaa-Vishnu, tells his half-brother Lakshmanan that Hanuman, the man-ape disguised as an aged ascetic appearing before them, was well-versed in the Rig, Yajur and Saama Vedams.

Hence, the Vedams and their partitioning into Rig, Yajur, Saama, and Atharva had happened before even the the thretha yugam.

Not just before the end of the kali-yugam by someone who was born to a fish and a gandarva, was adopted and brought up by a fisherman and who, though vowed to brahmaachaaryam (lifelong celibacy), slept on his mother's orders with two widows Ambika and Ambaalikaa of King Vichitra-veeryan and also slept with Ambaalikaa's maid, thereby fathering respectively blind Drithiraashtra, mottled-skinned Paandu, and Vidoora (vide Devi Bhaagavatham). (I have read elsewhere that there were no less than 24 successive Vyaasas who from time to time moulded the enormous amorphous mass of manthrams before partitioning it into four.)

Reverting to Sri Rudra Maha's concerns of today's "children" (they are fully-grown self-opinionated rebellious adullts in reality) going astray, parents' laments, unhappiness at chldren's choices of spouses, and general frustrations and hypocrisy, can we accept that coercion, collusion, conspiracy will not work?

Today's parents should realise that they did not grow up in the same mileu and with the same lexicon as their children. Being curious about and emphasising with their children's feelings and experiences, will help parents support their children's transition to the new life. Providing a listening ear, being always accessible, showing love is better than jumping in with advice.

The young are aways under pressure to perform, to achieve, to excel, and not to let themselves and others down. They sometimes experience a sense of "disconnection" as if body and soul are not "in tune". Children need space and time to recover. Parents need to respect their children's need of privacy, to count their own blessings, to help children to cull "toxic" friends, and get the children to "open up" to parents.

Sri Rudra Maha's recommendtion is that parents should "voice out their opinions loudly" -- a sure-fire foregone guarantee of failure which wiill only antagonise not only the children themselves but everyone around, including well-wishers.

A spoonful of sugar (or honey) will make the medicine go down, as the song says. Bigotry and demagoguery will have negative repercussions.

The parents should themselves set the example of disciplined Braahmanic lives and show that it is feasible and practicable, not merely desirable.

In the maelstrom of modern life, whether abroad or at home, it is easy to lose one's compass, and drift on to the rocks. We need strong anchors, stout hawsers. We need an alert and intelligent captain, we need a dedicated crew of mariners. We need reliable sea-charts and maps.

We have all of those. Are we prepared to galvanise the crew, incentivise the captain, steer the ship away from the menaciing rocks and to a safe and secure harbour of our choice? To read and make sense of the charts and maps?

We need spirituality, morals, faith, conviction, eternal vigilance, guts and gumption to succeed. It might well be a case of now or never.

Back to our sacred scriptures.

Yes, we Braahmanas are unique. Aren't the Amish and the Quakers? The Bahais, the Ahmadiyyas, the Shias? The myriad cults from the Syrian Orthodox, the Greek Orthodox, the Russian Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, to the Mar Thoma Orthodox churches? The Lutherans, the Presbyterians, the Christian Scientists, the Mormons, the Anglicans, the Methodists, the Salvation Army, the Baptists, thr Seventh-Day Advntists, the Pentacostals?

If they can survive, maintain their identities in the teeth of competition and danger, why can't we?

Sure, we can.

Sri Rudra Maha asks:- what are the options left for anyone who wishes to lead a normal dharmic life?


Little and often is probably the best way. Reform cannot be rushed. Angkor Wat was not cleared in a day. Nor was Borobudur so built.

May we start at the beginning? The minimum is our thri-kaala sandhyas. These can be divided into two components each: The shorter arkhyam-tharppanam part involving arkhyam of pure cold water chanting the mahaa-gaayathri manthram (thrice at sunrise and at sunset and twice at noon) and the gaayaathri japam (108, 32 and 64 respectively at sunrise, noon and sunset).

For beginners and reformers/rejoiners, postpone the time-consuming gaayaathri japam to weekends and public holidays, and do the arkhyam and tharppanams daily.

When you get into your stride, get a good copy of the Bhagavath-Geetha with English, Thamizh, Telegu, Kannada or Malayalam translations/commentary. Study slowly a few slokams at one time. Make sure you have caught the meaning, before proceeding further. There are 700 slokams. At 4 slokams a day you would have covered the whole Geetha in half a year or less.

Jagadguru Sree Aadi Shankaraachaarya, seeing the prolixity of worship of a multitude of deities, and consequent quarrelling among the devotees, devised a system of "shanmatam" worship, confining the worship to only six deities: Aadithya (Sun), Shiva, Vishnu, Ganapathi, Shakthi, and Subrahmania (also called kumaara).

Vaishnavaas traditionally worship only Vishnu and his ten avathaarams such as Sree Raama, Sree Krishna, Sree Narasimha, and Sree Parashu-raama. They wear distinctive forehead marks of three coloured vertical lines. Vadamas traditionally worship all six deities. They wear three horizontal lines of sacred ash (vibhoothi) across their forehead. Both Vaishnavals and Vadamas wear sandalwood paste and kumkum (reddened turmeric powder) on their foreheads.

You can select whichever deity among the six that your ancestors worshipped, and follow suit or, as my family does, worship all six. There is a tradition that Mahaa Vishnu prefers ornamentation and garlands (especially basil -- thulasi) , that Shiva prefers abhishegam (bathing with 12 ingredients), and that the Sun prefers prostrations (surya namaskaaram).

There is also a custom that each and every one of the deities (and their consorts) can be worshipped by shodasha-upachaara puja -- worship with 16 steps/offerings. You can learn this from your family priest. Going further, there are 1008-name sahasra-naama sthrothrams for most deities. These are resorted to on special occasions, such as festivals, and elaborate archanais done.

One last word before I close. Sri KRS, well-known member, advises:

"Live to understand who am I?

This query was posed by Ramana Maharishi. The answer is found in many of our Upanishads, i.e. it is not the human body, but the spark of divinity that inhabits the living body, the jeevaathma which, when the body dies (with the cessation of the function of the praanas and the indriyams) returns to the Paramaathma.



























 

Mani_Chennai

Active member
Let's discuss this not as a conundrum to Brahmins alone but to anyone who wants to lead a dharmic life.

What is a dharmic life? I believe the simplest approach is live in accordance with what our conscience tells us. Conscience is both a timeless aspect of mind in essence but conditioned by realities of one's current birth, which are approved and acceptable.

So it is my belief that there is an external àspect also to one's conscience. If we go by the way of conscience I think the dharmic requirements will be satisfied.

The next question is, how practical and applicable is this solution in current times? I think it is a workable one if we approach it in the right way. Inner wise I think the aspect antagonistic to conscience is our ego. So I think if we are able to rein in our ego which is by no means an easy task, we can let our conscience function properly and powerfully and act in accordance with it.

Ego is something like a veil over our conscience. It is a stupendous task to totally lift it but even if we make sincere efforts in that direction very fruitful results can be achieved. The will to achieve is as important as the process of achieving.
The basic dharma is live and let live without as far as possible knowingly hurt any one. If you are always selfish, when you have COVID you will die alone, Refuse to give bribe because poor people don't have the luxury. While we may look and behave as strangers, we have evolved from the same stock that lived thousands of years back. So, if don't help don't hurt. Share if you can, but don't stop some one who wants to help. -- I live by this and almost always happy and my friends and relatives cherish my relationship with them. I eat in Muslim House, Harijan's house but stipulate that I have allergy for non-veg, don't like too much garlic, I don't eat much and I want a cupy of yogurt(Dhahi) and they oblige. So, for me the only rational is the other person good or not. If not good I move away. While this is my philosophy of life, I don't expect others to follow, because I move away from those who are selfish and discrimnatory.
 

Nemmara Pattar

New member
Sri Rudra Maha had originally asked: "What are the options left for anyone who wishes to lead a normal dharmic life?"

Sri Savna (Srinivasan Vaidyanathan) opines:-

"If we go by the way of conscience I think the dharmic requirements will be satisfied....... The aspect antagonistic to conscience is our ego. So I think if we are able to rein in our ego ...... we can let our conscience function properly and powerfully and act in accordance with it."

Sri Mani Chennai responds:-

"The basic dharma is live and let live without as far as possible knowingly hurt any one..... If don't help don't hurt. Share if you can, but don't stop some one who wants to help. -- I live by this."

My own reaction to Sri Rudra Maha's above question was to refer to the clear and unambiguous injunctions in our Vedams, and to suggest a return to our nithya karmas and to our scriptures such as the popular Bhagavath-Geetha, found in our ithihaasa-puraanam "Mahaa-Bhaaratham".

Can reliance on our individual personal consciences, even if sans ego, adequately lead to a truly impeccable dharmic life, in the absence of any objective and reliable guide and reference yardstick such as our Vedams? Isn't our conscience vulnerable to compromise, inconsistency and debilitation in the face of challenges? Do we end up operating in a moral vaccuum of or own imagination, swayed by temptations to conform to the society around us? Become navel-gazers?

Again, our "live and let live" philosophy, carried to the letter, has resulted in Muslims and Christians outnumbering Hindus in Kerala, Brahmins being excluded from institutions of higher education, from jobs, from business opportunities, being reduced to poverty and ignominy in their own land. Farther afield, it has resulted in losing Tibet to the Chinese, who now, having gained the Aksin area, threaten to take over Arunachal Pradesh. It has resulted in losing Kashmir to the Pakistanis.
 

Mani_Chennai

Active member
Sri Rudra Maha had originally asked: "What are the options left for anyone who wishes to lead a normal dharmic life?"

Sri Savna (Srinivasan Vaidyanathan) opines:-

"If we go by the way of conscience I think the dharmic requirements will be satisfied....... The aspect antagonistic to conscience is our ego. So I think if we are able to rein in our ego ...... we can let our conscience function properly and powerfully and act in accordance with it."

Sri Mani Chennai responds:-

"The basic dharma is live and let live without as far as possible knowingly hurt any one..... If don't help don't hurt. Share if you can, but don't stop some one who wants to help. -- I live by this."

My own reaction to Sri Rudra Maha's above question was to refer to the clear and unambiguous injunctions in our Vedams, and to suggest a return to our nithya karmas and to our scriptures such as the popular Bhagavath-Geetha, found in our ithihaasa-puraanam "Mahaa-Bhaaratham".

Can reliance on our individual personal consciences, even if sans ego, adequately lead to a truly impeccable dharmic life, in the absence of any objective and reliable guide and reference yardstick such as our Vedams? Isn't our conscience vulnerable to compromise, inconsistency and debilitation in the face of challenges? Do we end up operating in a moral vaccuum of or own imagination, swayed by temptations to conform to the society around us? Become navel-gazers?

Again, our "live and let live" philosophy, carried to the letter, has resulted in Muslims and Christians outnumbering Hindus in Kerala, Brahmins being excluded from institutions of higher education, from jobs, from business opportunities, being reduced to poverty and ignominy in their own land. Farther afield, it has resulted in losing Tibet to the Chinese, who now, having gained the Aksin area, threaten to take over Arunachal Pradesh. It has resulted in losing Kashmir to the Pakistanis.

We are not teaching Vedas in homes in big cities. Whatever we see here are written based on the experience of the writer - most old timers who in general, grew in villages. But, are we talking to our children directly or bring our grand parents to talk to them. Live let live does not mean either hating Muslims or Christians and so on. Remember we have had fight with Buddhist, Jainism and so on but we went on. What you say is a political process and Brahmins have never united on political agenda as it was not their dharma. Their dharma was to teach and live poor. Also, a group of Brahmins and forest of Neem tress do not exit as they don't tolerate grouping. No matter how much you cry, according to verified statistics 3.5% of the total population have to join to change things and that has happened only 3 times recently. We fought freedom - Brahmins leading some times, but in general 3.5% total population was involved.

The political and economic struggles are not only for Brahman but also for all Hindus. Look at corruption PM Modi- people want to pull him down without showing how and what they will do to remove the so called "ills" of BJP? It is amusing that we complain, but give no enforceable solutions within the given context of life time. China was allowed to become a bully because Western countries thought they were stupid and gave all the technology. Can they not join together and kick them out of WTO and UN? No. So, give practical solutions to problems please. We can not talk about problems which are beyond the scope of this forum.
 

Nemmara Pattar

New member
Thanks for Sri Mani Chennai's thoughtful response. I was trying to reply to Sri Rudra Maha's question: "What are the options left for anyone who wishes to lead a normal dharmic life?"

"Fighting with Buddhist, Jainism and so on" was, I respectfully submit, a far, far cry from the inroads Islam, Christianity, atheist Communism and Western modernism are currently making into the lives of Hindus, whether Brahmins or not.

Who are the Aadi Shankaraachaaryas of today?

As I wrote earlier: It is a life-challenge we face, not a mere puzling dilemma. It is a battle for survival, for self-preservation.

My suggestion that we "Please try to go back to our roots a little" was not a "political process" as characterised but a practical choice.

"We fought freedom - Brahmins leading some times." Fighting to overthrow the British Raj and to instal the Indira Gandhi Raj to desecrate the Sikh Holy Temple at Amritsar the Harimandir Sahib was not political? Siding with or against the BJP and the Communist rule in Kerala is not political?

Those topics are not "beyond the scope of this forum"?
 
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