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Does rituals and praying need only sanskrit.

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dt. 28.6.2008

I am a brahmin devout and know sanskrit and alsogas rudram chamakamand other to an extent.

Recently i am obsseesed with the issue commonly discussed among all tlhe brahimins within themselves buit do not want to be vociferous openly.

The issue is every vadyar (shastsrigal) prforming the rituals either ofmarige or of shrardha karmas charge exhorbitantly without any reason.
I hae a feeling tht they emotionaly blam mail ones sentiment.

The eleders of the religion are mute spectoators.

These proceadures and the chanating or in sanskrit. When you go through these verses we undersrand that they are only language expressiions of what we do.

for examle in vygrudihi homan or aupasam we chant anumathenu agwasvaha sarasvathe nu agwas va ha. devasavitha prasuva.

and in shrardham we chant so many veda mantam in sanskrit.

If you go through these mantrams you find they are nothing but caling priturs or dieties to accept our givings .
Cant we not tell these in the language we know.

for Example if while performing shradha for my father if i say in tamil

"madirpirkuria en thanthai, buda udalai vitu pritha en thanthai, ungalukaga na inru ellum thaniyum vitu ungal tagaathai thanikere, adai petgru lovirgalaga. "

Will it not be acceptalbel

Can any one answer this.

I think this will put a stop to the explotiati on by greedy shastrigal.

Then whais the justice fo taking dakshinai of Rs..40,000/-formariage(for2 dyas) and 40 to R%0,000/-for apara karyangal for10 days.


Sri Prabhakaranji,

Yes the rituals can be done in Tamil but the procedures should closely follow what is done in Sanskrit.

This requires person like late "Anna" to write it for everyone to follow. This becomes an idealogical issue destracting the purpose.

However, I doubt if anyone will be willing to do so in Tamil just for one occassion and join the idealogical issue for which they are less prepared than their preparedness for the ritual.

Perhaps they would have it done away and forget about it.

Re: the cost to vaadhyaar, it is simply a matter of demand and supply. More vaadhyaars, less their fees!
Its just a matter of faith and convention

We can ask many questions. Why sanscrit?Why a vathiyar why not some one else?Why someone else ? Why not tape or doing oneself?etc etc
Its just a matter of faith.If one wishes one can totally avoid it.But we wont at the same time , sorry to say one way or the other cannot digest some vahiyars making money which we feel is too much.We have a mindset if one does this job he should not earn this much.That too we can digest a person with 5th standard education becoming a Hotel owner, a minister and making crores.But we are not ready to spend much on rituals (That too for life time events) as we consider it worthless.That no longer holds.You cannot get a cook below 500Rs a day.If demand is more it may go up further.

( I feel it would be better if Hindu Prohithars are also educated like Fathers in church and manage some institution,make money their respect would go up and they can do religious service at low costs) At the end of the day even they have to make a living.They have to pay atleast 5k rent in cities they live in.The situation of unorganized sector is too risky.They wont get work all the days.If they have health problems they will lose money.If they have major health problems or their families who will save their lives?(I am not sure how many are aware of medical insurance and all.)Above all if that job is lucrative are we ready to send our children to Vedic schools??

The only way is to empower them to do normal tasks too or fund them through a trust so that poor people wont suffer.
Please permit me to add my viewpoints on the topic.

1. First, let us ask ourselves - What is a 'mantra'? What it is made of?
2. As far as Hinduism is concerned, can Sanskrit alone be the functional language for
conducting various rituals/ceremonies and the medium to communicate and interact with
the Supreme power?
3. Is chanting or recital of mantras the exclusive privilege of one set/sect of people?
4. If a person conducts any ritual, reciting the mantras meant for them, but without
knowing their true meaning and purpose, what will happen?
5. If any other person chants/recites it, with the same degree of sincerity and
seriousness as it requires,
what result will it produce?

I will try to answer these questions myself, in the next post.
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1. What is a mantra?

A mantra is a series of harmonious sounds, arranged in an orderly fashion, with
some meaning attached to it.

Then, can a simple statement become a mantra?

No, because a simple statement does not convey more than what is intended to be
conveyed. Thus, simple statements have limitations in conveying powerful ideas.

‘Orderly fashion’ means what?

Changing the order of words may give a wrong or opposite meaning. Moreover,
a mantra is usually in a verse form, having sweet rhyme and rhythm, so as to
facilitate its remembrance. Incantation is pleasant to the ears and soothing to the
soul, even to a lay man or animal.

If it is so, can any verse possessing these qualities be called a mantra?

Look, the converse is not always true.

Why so many conditions?

To keep high standards, to pack and preserve sublime thoughts and to produce
the kind of electro-magnetic waves with the desired frequency, these conditions
are necessary. The underlying idea is the principle of resonance.

2. Why only Sanskrit?

All languages are divine creations, with no exception. Some languages attain
beauty and perfection, over a period of time, may be thousand years. When
they are rich and mature enough to accommodate almost all the subjects and
fields, ordinary to extra-ordinary, such languages gain additional attraction and
veneration too. So, I emphasize, Tamil is no way inferior for this job and it can
function as effectively as Sanskrit. (Recall the works of Nayanmars and Alwars).
Furthermore, one single language cannot fulfill the expectations of all the people,
especially in a pluralistic society like ours. Moreover, one should not forget the
fact that Sanskrit was never a language of the masses.

If we are able to communicate and interact with the Supreme power, in our own
language (mother tongue), we very easily establish rapport with ‘it’. That is why
mantras must evolve in every major language. They must be in simple, plain
language, without compromising on the standards. For this, scholastic approval
is a ‘sine qua non’.

3. Is only one group/class of people best suited for studying and recital of mantras?

Brahmins need not fear that their domain is under attack, if others also come
forward to learn and chant mantras and hymns.

4. If chanting/recital of mantras/hymns is done, without knowing their true meaning
and purpose, what will happen?

This is akin to a film artiste acting in a scene, dialogues for which are spoken and
recorded by a dubbing artiste. It produces no results for the ‘kartha’, nor does it
do any harm.

5. If people other than the professionals specially designated for this purpose,
chant/recite mantras/slokas, what results will it produce?

If the activity is pursued with the same degree of devotion and involvement
(shraddha) as it necessitates, it fetches the same result/benefit, regardless of
one's caste, creed or colour. But how many can do that?

As regards the exorbitant sums charged by some Purohits, Happyhindu has already
given his answer. Yet, we must be vigilant against those who are too greedy and demand change (coins) many times in between and introduce fresh conditions/
demands, as the process is midway. It will be an uncomfortable and embarrassing
situation to everyone.
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Does rituals and praying need only Sanskrit?

Dear Sri Prabhakaran,

According to me the answer to your query is "No". Nowhere it is said that the rituals should be in Sanskrit 'only'. But the fact is that all our original mantras related to performing rituals are composed in Sanskrit. Though mantras relating to Prayers have been redone very effectively by the Alwars and Nayanmars during various periods of Tamil renaissance without losing its charms, I have not come across such Tamil versions done for Pithrukarmas and Homams. Efforts should be taken by the learned to compose such Mantras in Tamil without losing its beauty and sanctity.

Recently I got a Wedding invitaion from a good friend, devout Hindu, belonging to Sengunda Mudaliar community who performed the Marriage of his daughter under Saiva Tamizh murai. He had also sent a booklet in Tamil along with the invitation containing the details of "Tamil rituals closely following the Vedic and his community rituals" done by a famous Sivagama Pandithar from Perur (Coimbatore). A good and sincere effort to demystify the Vedic rituals to the believers.

In Karnataka, where I live, it is common to see the Purohits giving Kannada meaning of the each ritual performed in Vedic marriages. Now a days I find this system is catching up slowly in Tamil Nadu also.

Again a request, let us not bring this good subject to controversy. Let us leave the choice of language to the individuals and the families. who perform the rituals.


Dear Brahmanyan,

I fully agree with you when you say that the choice must be left to the individuals
concerned. At the same time, I wish to say that the community must not be a stumbling block for evolving suitable new 'mantras' in Tamil or any other language. On the other hand, such attempts must be encouraged whole-heartedly.

I disagree with you when you say that Vedic mantras were 'redone' in Tamil, by Nayanmars and Alwars, implying that their works were word-by-word translation of Sanskrit works. No, that is not the case. It is true that Vedic influences are found in Tamil works at many places, but that doesn't mean such works are mere translations!

Moreover, I strongly refute the theory that evolution of mantras and hymns is complete and has come to an end. I will also not buy the argument that this process does not require a relook or further addition perpetually. While retaining what we have already, let us go further. In other words, new works in Sanskrit or any other language are quite possible and most welcome.

This requires devotion, great scholarship and hard work of select people. As I always tell, one must learn the existing ones, before embarking upon something new. Then only he can correctly judge and come to a conclusion, as to where he wants to deviate or branch off.

Anyway, thanks for your nice response.

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