Friday, February 24, 2012

ABHIVAADANAM, GOTRAS AND CHARAN-SPARS


ABHIVAADANAM, GOTRAS AND CHARAN-SPARS (TOUCHING THE FEET)
(DISCOURSE BY N. R. SRINIVASAN, DECEMBER 2010)

 
It is customary to bow to the elders in a Sashtaaga posture (eight parts posture) by males according to Vedic tradition. In this posture one lies down, face down on the floor, both hands stretched out and held parallel above the head. Both legs are also stretched parallel to each other and held closer. In short, all parts of the front portion of the body touch the earth. It is also customary, to receive the blessings of the elder after announcing one's Pravara, Gothra, Sutra, Vedic branch, name, in a manner to be heard clearly by the elder to whom one is bowing. It is also a common practice to close one's ears while reciting the Pravara (decent) etc. At the end of this, right hand back palm placed over the left hand palm, one touches the feet of the elders, bowing down.

 

An example of Abhivaadana recitation run as follows:

 

"Abhivaadaye
Aangeerasa Bruhaspatya Bharadwaja

(three rishis from whom one's decent has taken place)

 


Trayarsheya
Pravaraanvitaha
Bhaaradraja gotraha (one's gothram)


 


Aapasthamba
Sutraha (one's sutra-following)


 

Yajussaakha-adhyaee (vedic following)

 


Sri Srinivaasa sarman naamaham asmi bhoh (I am called Sri Srnivasan)


 

This is an ingenious way of keeping record of one's Vedic background from time immemorial, passed on from generation to generation which could never be lost, as it happened with the ancient written Vedic historic records. It is a Vedic historic record of one's family tree since the creation of the universe which is 155.5 trillion years and the creation of 14 divine sages: Sanaka, Sanandana, Santana, Sanakadika, Atri, Mareechi, Aangeerasa, Pulastya, Pulah, Kritu, Bhrigu, Vasishta, Daksha and Narada.

 

1) Abhivaadanam is not done when you bow down to prostrate to God.
2) It is also not done when bowing down to Saints.
3) It is not done to other ladies, except one's mother.
4) It is not done when bowing down to Vedic groups.

 

For people who do not know their 'Pravaraas' against their gothras, they may find out the same from the following chart.

 

S.No. 
Gotra 
Pravaraa 
1 
Bharadwaja 
Aangeerasa, Braahaspatya, Bharadwaja 
2 
Shathamarshana 
Aangeerasa, Bhowrukutsa, Traasadasya
3 
Atreya 
Aatreya, Aarchnanasa, Syaavaasva 
4 
Vaadoola 
Bhaargava, Vaidahavya Saavedasa 
5 
Srivatsa
Bhargava, Chyavana, Aapnavaana, Owrva, Jaamadagnya 
6 
Viswamitra 
Viswamitra, Devaradha, Outhala 
7 
Kausika
Viswaamitra, Aaghamarshana, Kausika 
8 
Kaundinya 
Vaasishta, Maitaavaruna, Kaundinya 
9 
Harita 
Aangeerasa, Ambareesha, Yuvanaasva 
10 
Moudgalya 
i) Aangeerasa, Paarmayasva, Moudgalya 
ii) Taarkshya, Paarmayasva, Moudgalya 
iii) Aangeerasa, Daavya, Moudgalya
11 
Saandilya 
i) Kaashyapa, Aavatsaara, Shaandilya 
ii) Kaashyapa Aavatsaara, Daivala 
12 
Naidruvakaasyapa 
Kasshyapa, Aavatsaara, Naidruva 
13 
Kutsa 
Aangeerasa, Maandatra, Kauthsa 
14 
Kanva 
i) Aangeerasa, Ajameela, Kanava
ii) Kaashyapa Aavatsaara, Daivala 
15 
Paraasara 
Vaasishta, Sakthya, Paaraasharya 
16 
Aagastya 
Agastya, Dharadyachyuta, Sowmavaaha 
17 
Gargi 
i) Aangreerasa, Braahaspatya, Bharadwaja, Sainya Gargya 
ii) Aangeerasa, Sainya, Gargya 
18 
Baadaraayana
Aangreerasa, Parshadasva, Radheedhara 
19 
Kaasyapa 
Kaashyapa, Aavatsaara, Daivala 
20 
Sankruti 
i) Sadya, Gauraveeta, Sankrutya 
ii) Aangeerasa, Gowraveeta, Sankrutya

 

When there are three names it is called Trayaarsheya
When there are five names it is called Panchaarsheya

 

When Abhivaadhanam is done, in return the elder to whom one is prostrating will bless the person back with the words "Aayusmaaneti" or "Dheergagyushmaan Bhava" meaning "may you live long".

 

The various Sutras are:

 

Rig Veda Aaswalaayana sutram
Kaatyaayana sutram
Yajur Veda Aapasthambha sutram
Bhodaayana sutram
Saama Veda Trayhyaayani sutram
Raanaayani sutram

 

Abhivaadanam is usually done by the male members of the family after attaining "Brahmacharyam (Bachelorhood). In olden days, when people traveled or moved this was the only way that one would introduce himself or announce his heritage and lineage in the new community, since very little communication existed and photographs did not exist.

 
Only Brahmins of South India seem to keep this tradition still. They are inducted to this habit during their Upanayana Samskaara. But Gotra is not the exclusive privilege of the Brahmins. Most of the non-Brahmins know their Gotras learning them from their parents and fore–fathers which they declare at the time of making their Sankalpa (religious resolve) while performing any Hindu ritual. Still they are identified as Dravidians while Brahmins are not. These Gotras also indicate their lineage to ancient sages same as the above. All the Azhwars and Nayanmars have their Gotras majority of who are not drawn from Brahmin community and whose idols are installed, consecrated and worshipped in Siva as well as Vishnu temples in the South. But unfortunately the Periyar movement in Tamilnadu identified Brhmins exclusively with Aryans because they were the only one group who regularly announced their Gotras whenever they paid their respect to their elders with Ashtaanga Pranaamam, to instigate hatred against them and develop class hatred which still continues. Thus sometimes Gotra has become caste symbol identified with Brahmin community only. It is evident Rishis had no caste system and their followers could be of any Varna Dharma followers. Viswamitra was not a Brhamin at all by birth but many Brahmins have Viswamitra Gotra.

 
Gotra (where cows are protected coming from Sanskrit roots "go" and "tra" which means a shelter for cattle in Sanskrit. The Aryans as history says were nomadic people. Vedas reveal that Aryan life depended much on cows and so they were venerated. Aryans constantly herded their cattle from one grazing ground to another. During severe winters, stormy weathers and summers they needed protection from the ravages of harsh weathers. They were then confined to shelters which were limited in number. Aryan families were forced to put their cows in the same shelter quite often. As a result cattle of one family got often mixed up with the other families and disputes arose as to their ownership. Judges were appointed to resolve such disputes to give fair and just verdicts.

 
These Judges were of great moral and spiritual values. Because of their exalted character their judgment was respected by the Aryan society. They were called Gotrapatis. These judges were later recognized and respected as spiritually illumined souls. Among these highly venerated Gotrapatis are Shaandilya, Bhaaradvaaja, Kaasyapa and others who are considered as rishis or sages. Rishi literally means seer or overseer. Kaasyapa was the earliest among them who was also the husband of both Kadru, mother of snakes and Vinita, the mother of Garuda. He was called Pasyaka as one who has seen the Truth. This word later became Kaasyapa by which name he is popularly known in Puranas.

 
It is an ancient Hindu tradition to touch the feet of one's parents, teachers and elders which tradition still continues wherever Hindus live. Generally North Indians do not have the practice of Abhivadaanam in which they have to declare the family lineage every time (Pravara).

 
Great importance has been given to the way a person greets others in the Atharva Veda. Through Charan Sparsh (touching feet and bowing) an individual exhibits the respect one holds for the elderly, the wise, and those with ideals and outstanding contributions to the society.

 
In Manu Smriti, 2/12/121, it is said that whoever respectfully greets elders and teachers is blessed with strength, knowledge, honor and long life.

 
Brahmaarambhe avasaane va paadau grahyaugurouh sadaa |
Samhritya hastaavadhyeyam sa hi brahmaanjalih smritah ||
Vyatyasta paaninaa kaaryamupa sangrahana guroeh|
Savyena savyah sprashtavyoe dakshinena va dakshinah ||
Janmaprabhriti yatkinchit sukritam samupaarjitam |
Tatsarvam nishphalam yaati Ekahastabhivaadanaat ||

 
Before beginning to learn Vedas, and after the learning is complete, the student must regularly greet and touch the feet of teachers. This is Brahmaanjali—an ideal offering to the Guru. Drawing close to the teacher one must touch the right foot with the right hand and the left foot with the left Hand. One should never greet with one hand only. This way all virtues earned over a lifetime are wasted. It is important that the greetings must be conveyed with both hands and with humility and devotion. The American way of greeting with one hand saying "hay" to elders is not considered polite in Hindu society.

 
Since the human body is releasing vibrations due to human magnetism and also receiving them from people who come close, touching the feet induces flow of energy. When elders touch the head of the person for blessing, energy is again exchanged between them. This exchange of energy gives one vigor, self-confidence and contentment. One experiences inner glow. The blessing received after Charan Sparsh is like invisible armor; they motivate and give strength. Yudhishtira says in Mahabharata (Vanaparva): "Devotedly touching the feet of the mother and father, teachers and elders and by serving them until they are content gives blessings that make a person great and powerful".

 
Sources:
  1. Swami Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, Ramakrishna math, Mylapore, Chennai, India.
  2. Vadakalai Nityaanushthaana Kramam, The Little Flower Company, Chennai, India.
  3. Prem Bhalla, Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs & Traditions, Pustak Mahal, Newq Delhi, India.

 

ABHIVAADANAM, GOTRAS  AND CHARAN-SPARS  (TOUCHING THE FEET)
(DISCOURSE BY N. R. SRINIVASAN, DECEMBER 2010)

It is customary to bow to the elders in a Sashtaaga posture (eight parts posture) by males according to Vedic tradition.  In this posture one lies down, face down on the floor, both hands stretched out and held parallel above the head. Both legs are also stretched parallel to each other and held closer.  In short, all parts of the front portion of the body touch the earth.  It is also customary, to receive the blessings of the elder  after announcing one’s Pravara,  Gothra,  Sutra,  Vedic branch,  name, in a manner to be heard clearly by the elder to whom one is bowing. It is also a common practice to close one’s ears while reciting the Pravara (decent) etc.  At the end of this, right hand back palm placed over the left hand palm, one touches the feet of the elders, bowing down.

An example of Abhivaadana recitation run as follows:

      "Abhivaadaye  Aangeerasa  Bruhaspatya  Bharadwaja
      (three rishis from whom one’s decent has taken place)

      Trayarsheya  Pravaraanvitaha  Bhaaradraja  gotraha  (one's gothram)

       Aapasthamba  Sutraha  (one’s sutra-following)

       Yajussaakha-adhyaee  (vedic following)

       Sri Srinivaasa sarman   naamaham asmi bhoh (I am called Sri Srnivasan)

This is an ingenious way of keeping record of one's Vedic background from time immemorial, passed on from generation to generation which could never be lost, as it happened with the ancient written Vedic historic records.   It is a Vedic historic record of one's family tree since the creation of the universe which is 155.5 trillion years and the creation of 14 divine sages:  Sanaka,  Sanandana,  Santana,  Sanakadika, Atri, Mareechi, Aangeerasa,  Pulastya,  Pulah,  Kritu,  Bhrigu,  Vasishta,  Daksha and Narada.

1)  Abhivaadanam is not done when you bow down to prostrate to God.
2)  It is also not done when bowing down to Saints.
3)  It is not done to other ladies, except one's mother.
4)  It is not done when bowing down to Vedic groups.

For people who do not know their 'Pravaraas' against their gothras, they may find out the same from the following chart.

S.No. Gotra Pravaraa
1 Bharadwaja Aangeerasa,  Braahaspatya,  Bharadwaja
2 Shathamarshana Aangeerasa,  Bhowrukutsa,  Traasadasya
3 Atreya Aatreya,        Aarchnanasa,   Syaavaasva
4 Vaadoola Bhaargava,   Vaidahavya         Saavedasa
5 Srivatsa Bhargava,     Chyavana,  Aapnavaana,  Owrva,  Jaamadagnya
6 Viswamitra Viswamitra,  Devaradha,   Outhala
7 Kausika Viswaamitra,  Aaghamarshana,  Kausika
8 Kaundinya Vaasishta, Maitaavaruna,  Kaundinya
9 Harita Aangeerasa,  Ambareesha,  Yuvanaasva
10 Moudgalya i)  Aangeerasa,  Paarmayasva,  Moudgalya
ii)  Taarkshya,  Paarmayasva,  Moudgalya
iii)  Aangeerasa,  Daavya,  Moudgalya
11 Saandilya i)  Kaashyapa,  Aavatsaara,  Shaandilya
ii)  Kaashyapa  Aavatsaara,  Daivala
12 Naidruvakaasyapa Kasshyapa,  Aavatsaara,  Naidruva
13 Kutsa Aangeerasa,  Maandatra,  Kauthsa
14 Kanva i) Aangeerasa,  Ajameela,  Kanava
ii)  Kaashyapa  Aavatsaara,  Daivala
15 Paraasara Vaasishta,  Sakthya,  Paaraasharya
16 Aagastya Agastya,  Dharadyachyuta,  Sowmavaaha
17 Gargi i) Aangreerasa,  Braahaspatya,  Bharadwaja,  Sainya  Gargya
ii) Aangeerasa,  Sainya,  Gargya
18 Baadaraayana Aangreerasa, Parshadasva,  Radheedhara
19 Kaasyapa Kaashyapa,  Aavatsaara, Daivala
20 Sankruti i)  Sadya,  Gauraveeta,  Sankrutya
ii)  Aangeerasa, Gowraveeta, Sankrutya

When there are three names it is called Trayaarsheya
When there are five names it is called Panchaarsheya

When Abhivaadhanam is done, in return the elder to whom one is prostrating will bless the person back with the words “Aayusmaaneti” or "Dheergagyushmaan Bhava" meaning "may you live long".

The various Sutras are:

Rig Veda         Aaswalaayana  sutram
                       Kaatyaayana  sutram
Yajur Veda      Aapasthambha  sutram
                       Bhodaayana  sutram
Saama  Veda   Trayhyaayani  sutram
                       Raanaayani  sutram

Abhivaadanam is usually done by the male members of the family after attaining    "Brahmacharyam (Bachelorhood). In olden days, when people traveled or moved this was the only way that one would introduce himself or announce his heritage and lineage in the new community, since very little communication existed and photographs did not exist.

Only Brahmins of South India seem to keep this tradition still. They are inducted to this habit during their Upanayana Samskaara. But Gotra is not the exclusive privilege of the Brahmins. Most of the non-Brahmins know their Gotras learning them from their parents and fore–fathers which they declare at the time of   making their Sankalpa (religious resolve) while performing any Hindu ritual. Still they are identified as Dravidians while Brahmins are not. These Gotras also indicate their lineage to ancient sages same as the above.  All the Azhwars and Nayanmars have their Gotras; majority of them are not drawn from Brahmin community but their  idols are installed, consecrated and worshipped in Siva as well as Vishnu temples in the South. But unfortunately the Periyar movement in Tamilnadu identified Brhmins exclusively with Aryans because they were the only one group who regularly announced their Gotras whenever they paid their respect to their elders with Ashtaanga Pranaamam, to instigate hatred against them and develop class hatred which still continues. Thus sometimes Gotra has become caste symbol identified with Brahmin community only. It is evident Rishis had no caste system and their followers could be of any Varna Dharma followers.   Viswamitra was not a Brahmin at all by birth but many Brahmins have Viswamitra Gotra. This shows Gotra was not based on present day focus on caste.

Gotra (where cows are protected coming from Sanskrit roots “go” and “tra” which means  a shelter for cattle in Sanskrit. The Aryans as history says were nomadic people. Vedas reveal that Aryan life depended much on cows and so they were venerated. Aryans constantly herded their cattle from one grazing ground to another. During severe winters, stormy weathers and summers they needed protection from the ravages of harsh weathers. They were then confined to shelters which were limited in number. Aryan families were forced to put their cows in the same shelter quite often. As a result cattle of one family got often mixed up with the other families and disputes arose as to their ownership. Judges were appointed to resolve such disputes to give fair and just verdicts.

These Judges were of great moral and spiritual values. Because of their exalted character their judgment was respected by the Aryan society. They were called Gotrapatis. These judges were later recognized and respected as spiritually illumined souls.  Among these highly venerated Gotrapatis are Shaandilya, Bhaaradvaaja, Kaasyapa and others who are considered as rishis or sages. Rishi literally means seer or overseer. Kaasyapa was the earliest among them who was also the husband of both Kadru, mother of snakes and Vinita, the mother of Garuda. He was called Pasyaka as one who has seen the Truth. This word later became Kaasyapa by which name he is popularly known in Puranas. Parpanan (one who sees) in Tamil means Brahmin. This comes from Pasyaka. So a Brahmin is one who has seen the Truth. So it is not a birth right though the present practice is to claim it as a birth right.

 It is an ancient Hindu tradition to touch the feet of one’s parents, teachers and elders which tradition still continues wherever Hindus live. Generally North Indians do not have the practice of Abhivadaanam in which they have to declare the family lineage every time (Pravara).

Great importance has been given to the way a person greets others in the Atharva Veda. Through Charan Sparsh (touching feet and bowing) an individual exhibits the respect one holds for the elderly, the wise, and those with ideals and outstanding contributions to the society.

In Manu Smriti, 2/12/121, it is said that whoever respectfully greets elders and teachers is blessed with strength, knowledge, honor and long life.

Brahmaarambhe avasaane va paadau grahyaugurouh sadaa |
Samhritya hastaavadhyeyam sa hi brahmaanjalih smritah ||
Vyatyasta paaninaa kaaryamupa sangrahana guroeh|
Savyena savyah sprashtavyoe dakshinena va dakshinah ||
Janmaprabhriti yatkinchit sukritam samupaarjitam |
Tatsarvam nishphalam yaati Ekahastabhivaadanaat ||

Before beginning to learn Vedas, and after the learning is complete, the student must regularly greet and touch the feet of teachers. This is Brahmaanjali—an ideal offering to the Guru. Drawing close to the teacher one must touch the right foot with the right hand and the left foot with the left Hand. One should never greet with one hand only. This way all virtues earned over a lifetime are wasted. It is important that the greetings must be conveyed with both hands and with humility and devotion. The American way of greeting with one hand saying “hay” to elders is not considered polite in Hindu society.

Since the human body is releasing vibrations due to human magnetism and also receiving them from people who come close, touching the feet induces flow of energy. When elders touch the head of the person for blessing, energy is again exchanged between them. This exchange of energy gives one vigor, self-confidence and contentment. One experiences inner glow. The blessing received after Charan Sparsh is like invisible armor; they motivate and give strength. Yudhishtira says in Mahabharata (Vanaparva): “Devotedly touching the feet of the mother and father, teachers and elders and by serving them until they are content gives blessings that make a person great and powerful”.

Sources:
1) Swami Bhaskarananda, The Essentials of Hinduism, Ramakrishna math, Mylapore, Chennai, India.
2) Vadakalai Nityaanushthaana Kramam, The Little Flower Company, Chennai, India.
3) Prem Bhalla, Hindu Rites, Rituals, Customs & Traditions, Pustak Mahal, Newq Delhi, India.


Compiled by   N. R. Srinivasan

Spiritual significance of Namaskar

(Author Unknown)
What is the meaning and the benefits of ‘Namaskar’?

The word ‘Namaskar’ is derived from the root ‘namaha’, which means paying obeisance (Namaskar) or salutation.

From Science of Justice – ‘Namaha’ is a physical action expressing that ‘you are superior to me in all qualities and in every way’.

Worldly Benefits
– By doing Namaskar to a deity or a Saint, unknowingly their virtues and capabilities are impressed upon our minds. Consequently we start emulating them, thus changing ourselves for the better.

Spiritual Benefits
– Increase in humility and reduction of ego / Enhancement in the spiritual emotion of surrender and gratitude / Gaining the Sattva component and faster spiritual progress
We receive the highest amount of Sattva component from the posture (mudra) of Namaskar.
By doing Namaskar to Deities or Saints we receive subtle frequencies emitted by them, e.g. frequencies of Sattva or Bliss.

Why is it not appropriate to Shake Hands?

Avoid a Hand Shake: It tranfers undesirable raja-tama components! In short, in a handshake, the raja-tama components in one person will get transferred to the other person, thereby lowering his sattvikta (Purity levels). While practicing Spirituality, our objective is to perform acts which increase our sattvikta.
If at all they do Namaskar by joining their palms, it is done just as a formality. As the act is not based on faith, the benefit derived from it is minimal. Along with faith it is essential that every religious act be correctly performed according to the Science of Spirituality, so that it gives complete benefit. In this series, as with the others, along with information on various methods of doing Namaskar, the Science in them is also explained. Understanding the Science will help in strengthening faith in the act. Such an act correctly performed with faith, will yield corresponding benefits.

How does one do Namaskar to an individual of the same age group?
When meeting someone of the same age-groupdo Namaskar by joining the fingers and placing tips of the thumbs on the Anahat chakra (at the centre of the chest). This type of Namaskarincreases the spiritual emotion of humility in the embodied soul. Sattva frequencies from the universe are attracted by the fingers (which act as an antenna) and are then transmitted to the entire body through the thumbs which have awakened the Anahat chakra. This activates the soul energy of the embodied soul. In addition, by doing Namaskar in this manner to each other, frequencies of blessings are also transmitted.


What is correct method & science of doing Namaskar to God?

A. ‘While paying obeisance to God,  bring the palms together.
1. The fingers should be held loose (not straight and rigid) while joining the hands or palms.
2. The fingers should be kept close to each other without leaving any space between them.
3. The fingers should be kept away from the thumbs.
4. The inner portion of the palms should not touch each other and there should be some space between them.
Note: The stage of awakening of spiritual emotion (Bhav) is important to the seeker at the primary level. Hence, for awakening spiritual emotion (Bhav), he should keep space in between the joined hands, whereas a seeker who is at the advanced level should refrain from leaving such space in between the palms to awaken the unexpressed spiritual emotion (Bhav).

B. After joining the hands one should bow and bring the head forward.

C. While tilting the head forward, one should place the thumbs at the mid-brow region, i.e. at the point between the eyebrows and try to concentrate on the feet of the Deity.

D. After that, instead of bringing the folded hands down immediately, they should be placed on the mid-chest region for a minute in such way that the wrists touch the chest; then only should the hands be brought down.

Underlying Science in this action
A. The fingers should not be stiff while bringing the palms together because this will lead to a decrease in Sattva component from the vital and mental sheaths and thus increase the raja component in them. By keeping the fingers relaxed, the subtlest Sattva component will get activated. With the strength of this energy, embodied souls are able to fight powerful distressing energies.

B. In the Namaskar posture, the joined fingers act as an antenna to assimilate the Chaitanya (Divine consciousness) or the Energy transmitted by a Deity. While joining the palms, the fingers must touch each other because leaving space between the fingers will result in accumulation of energy in that space. This energy will be immediately transmitted in various directions; therefore the seeker’s body will lose the benefit of this potent energy.

C. About the space to be maintained between the palms:
For a seeker at the primary level, it is advisable to leave space between the palms; it is not necessary for a seeker at an advanced level to leave space between the palms.

D. After joining the palms, bow a little. This posture puts pressure on the navel and activates the five vital energies situated there. Activation of these vital energies in the body makes it sensitive to accepting sattvik frequencies. This later awakens the ‘Atma shakti’ (i.e. soul energy of an embodied soul). And later, Bhav is awakened. This enables the body to accept in large measures the Chaitanya emitted by the Deity.

E. Touch the thumbs to the mid-brow region. (Please see images above..) This posture awakens the Bhav of surrender in an embodied soul, and in turn activates the appropriate subtle frequencies of Deities from the Universe. They enter through the ’Adnya chakra’ (Sixth of the 7 chakras in the Kundalini) of the embodied soul and settle in the space parallel to it at the back interior of the head. In this space the openings to all the three channels converge; namely, the Moon, the Central and the Sun channels. Due to the movement of these subtler frequencies in this space, the Central Channel is activated. Consequently it facilitates the speedy transmission of these frequencies throughout the body, leading to purification of both the gross and subtle bodies at the same time.

F. After doing Namaskar, to completely imbibe the Chaitanya of the Deity (that has entered the hands by now), instead of bringing the folded hands down immediately, place them on the mid-chest region in such a way that the wrists touch the chest.
The ‘Anahat chakra’ is located at the centre of the chest. Akin to the Adnya chakra, the activity of the Anahat chakra is also to absorb the Sattva frequencies. By touching the wrists to the chest, the Anahat chakra is activated and it helps in absorbing more of the Sattva component.

Effect of this Posture
By doing Namaskar in this manner, the Deity’s Chaitanya is absorbed to a greater extent by the body, as compared to other methods of doing Namaskar. This gives maximum distress to negative energies. The negative energies that have manifested in a person are unable to touch their thumbs at the mid-brow region in Namaskar. (The negative energies are subtle. But at times they enter an individual’s body and manifest it. – Editor)’

Q. What is the reason for not wrapping a cloth around the neck while performing circumambulation, doing Namaskar, ritualistic worship, sacrificial fires, chanting and while visiting Guru and deities?
A. When a cloth is wrapped around the neck, it does not activate the Vishuddha chakra (in the throat region) and hence an individual gets less benefit of the Sattva component.

Why should one always do Namaskar to elders?
Meaning: When an elderly person arrives, the vital energy of the young person starts rising and when he gets up and does Namaskar, it returns to normal. – Manusmruti 2.120; Mahabharat, Udhyog, Chapter (Section) 38.1, Sr. no. 104, 64-65

Explanation: ‘As the sojourn of the elderly person is gradually towards the southern direction, that is, towards the region of Lord Yama (towards death), his body starts emitting raja and tama frequencies on a high scale. When such an elderly person comes in the vicinity of any younger individual, these frequencies start affecting the younger person. A subtle magnetic field is created between the two. Consequently, the vital energy of the younger person is pulled upward. This way the younger person can suffer due to sudden momentum to his vital energy. When this younger person doesNamaskar to the elderly person, some amount of the Central channel of his Kundalini system is activated and the Sattva component in it starts increasing. Consequently the raja and tama components in him are influenced by the Sattva component and the vital energy comes back to normal state. Hence on arrival of an elderly person, it is customary for the younger individuals to do Namaskar to them.’


Doing Namaskar to Elders.
 When travelling, prior to the commencement of a journey and upon returning, why should one do Namaskar to elders in the family?

‘Namaskar to the elders in the family is one way of surrendering to the God principle in them. When an embodied soul bows in Namaskar to an elder by surrendering to the God principle in him, at that time a sense of compassion is created in his body. This compassion percolates right upto his subtle body. At that time, energy of his mind is activated and in turn activates the five vital energies, which are located at the seat of the Manipur chakra (situated in the Naval region). Transmission of these five vital energies all over the body then awakens the soul energy. With the strength of the soul energy, the Central channel gets activated and converts the expressed energy of spiritual emotion to the unexpressed energy of spiritual emotion.
With the help of this unexpressed energy of spiritual emotion, the embodied soul, through the medium of elders, gains the required Deity’s principle from the Universe. For this purpose, while leaving the house on a journey, the embodied soul should do Namaskar to elders and with the strength of Sattva frequencies has to protect himself from distressing frequencies in the atmosphere. Similarly, returning from a journey, one should immediately do Namaskar to elders and awaken the God principle in them, which would disintegrate the raja-tama particles from the air around him, which might have been brought along.

What is the correct method of doing Namaskar to Saints?

1. The portion of head, which should be placed at the feet :
We can imbibe maximum Chaitanya through the Brahmarandhra (the seventh chakra of the Kundalini system located in the crown of our head). Since it (Brahmarandhra) cannot be placed at a Saints’s feet, the part of head beginning above the forehead is to be placed at the feet of Saints. Due to this, maximum Chaitanya emanating from Their feet can enter into the one doing Namaskar.

2. The exact spot to place one’s head on a Saint’s feet:
The big toes of Saints emit maximum Chaitanya; hence we should place our head on the big toe, than on their foot. If we are in a position to touch both the toes, then place the head on the right big toe.

3. The position of hands when placing the head on a Saint’s feet:

a. Some interlock their hands behind their backs at the waist and do Namaskar. If we are in a position to touch both their toes, then we should place the hands one on each foot and the head should be placed on the big toe of the right foot. If we are in a position to touch one of Their toes, then place both the hands on it and keep the head on the big toe.

b. Some do Namaskar by placing hands on the ground. This is also wrong because if the hands are placed on the ground then the Chaitanya emanating from the Saint’s feet are absorbed by one and then returns to the earth through the hands of the one doing Namaskar. Thus the person does not benefit from it.

c. Some cross their hands and place them on the feet of Saints, that is, their right hand on the right foot of the Saint and their left hand on the left foot of the Saint while doingNamaskar. This is a crude imitation of the manner in which Christians place their crossed hands on their chest. Instead, our right hand should be placed on the left foot of the Saint and our left hand on the right foot of the Saint. This is convenient also. However, if a Guru has started some procedure in a particular sect, then the hands are to be placed in that manner only.

d. The hands are to be positioned in such a way that the palms are placed on the feet.


How to do Namaskar to the wooden footwear (paduka) of Saints?

Namaskar to the wooden footwear (paduka) of Saints.

‘The left paduka symbolises Lord Shiva and the right symbolises Divine Energy. The left paduka is the unmanifest saviour energy and the right is the unmanifest destroyer energy of the Supreme God. The saviour or destroyer energy of the Supreme God emanates from the ‘pegs’ of the paduka as per the need. When we do Namaskar by placing our head on the ‘pegs’ of the paduka, some may experience distress due to the inability to tolerate the manifest energy emitting from it. Hence, while doing Namaskar to the paduka, instead of the pegs, place the head on the foremost part i.e. the place where the Saints place their toes.’

Should one do Namaskar to a dead body?

Q. If this be so, should we do Namaskar to the dead bodies in Kaliyuga only as a custom? If it is a custom, can we discontinue it?
A. One can maintain respect for the dead person by doing Namaskar and in addition set an ideal with regards to respecting elders. In Kaliyuga, from this one will benefit at an emotional level and not at a spiritual level. However, one should not discontinue this custom; instead one could learn how to get spiritual benefit from it. Due to the deterioration of the Sattva component in embodied souls, this practice has become a mere custom in Kaliyuga.

However, as per the saying, ‘God exists where there is spiritual emotion’, while doing Namaskar to a dead body if we have a spiritual emotion that we are doing Namaskar to the God principle in it, then the God principle in the dead body awakens and we receive God’s blessings. This happens because the God principle is immortal and has no limitations that a physical body has.

Q. It is said that one should not do Namaskar to a sleeping person. In Kaliyuga if one does Namaskar by touching the dead body, then are the chances of getting distress from negative energies not higher?
A. Yes it is; but while doing Namaskar it is important that the action be performed with correct spiritual emotion. Since Namaskar is done to the God principle in the dead body instead of activating raja, tama components, it activates the Godly principle in the dead body and bestows Sattva corresponding to the degree of spiritual emotion.’

‘One hand’ touch to the Temple Steps

Action: Touch the step with the fingers of the right hand and move the same hand over the head.
Science: ‘The area around the temple is charged with frequencies of Deities which leads to an increase in the Sattva component. The presence of Divine consciousness in the area charges even the stairs in a temple. ‘Climbing’ steps is one of the activities, which increases the raja component in the body. Hence, the raja component is already activated in the body of an embodied soul so by touching the steps with the fingers of the right hand, the Sattva component and peace from the charged premise, get transmitted to the body through the right hand. In addition, from this action, the activated raja component in the body can be controlled through the medium of the surya nadi (Sun channel). This means that, for a moment, the activities of the Sun channel can be stopped. From this process, the embodied soul learns to enhance the Sattva component through raja dominant actions.

Therefore, it is very essential to perform the appropriate sattvik actions at each corresponding level, hence the method of touching the steps with fingers of the right hand and then moving the fingers or palm over the head. Even the dust present on the steps is charged with Chaitanya and so we must respect it and derive spiritual benefit from it. If the embodied soul harbours the spiritual emotion that ‘the Chaitanya from the steps be transmitted all over my body from the dust on my hand’, then it will give increasing benefit to the embodied soul. In addition if the ego of the embodied soul is less at that time then it gives even more benefit. When any action is performed devoid of ego or ‘I’ness it is treated as a ‘non-action’ (akarma-karma).’

Do’s and Dont’s while doing Namaskar

Q. Why should the eyes be closed while doing Namaskar?

‘Joining hands while bowing the head amounts to saluting God or the divinity in the person in front. The eyes are closed while doing Namaskar to God or any respected person, to enable one to have the vision of God within us.’

Q. Why should the footwear be taken off while doing Namaskar?
While sitting, partaking meals, sleeping, wishing and doing Namaskar to Gurus and other elderly people, footwear should not be worn. – Gautamsmruti 9.
1. Footwear increases the raja-tama components in a person.
2. Paying obeisance (Namaskar) with high raja-tama components will not help in activating the Kundalini (centre in the spiritual energy system).
3. The ability to absorb the sattva component too is reduced, due to an increase in the raja-tama components, leading to little benefit from a Namaskar.
4. Doing Namaskar to a Deity, with footwear on, may also invite the wrath of the Deity.’

Q. Why is it not advisable to hold any object while doing Namaskar?
1. While doing Namaskar if an object is held in the hands, usually the fingers and their tips are in a curled position and not straight. As a result, the sattva component received is unable to enter the tips of the fingers.
2.  The sattva component emitted towards the seeker, strikes the object held and bounces back. Also, at times, instead of the person absorbing the sattva component, the object may absorb it.
3. If the object in the hand is raja or tama predominant, and if it is touched to the forehead or chest while doing Namaskar, then the raja-tama components from it mayenter the body of the one who is doing Namaskar.

Q. While doing Namaskar, why are men not supposed to cover their head, whereas women are advised to cover their head?

One should not do Namaskar with footwear on, covering the head or holding any objects. (But women should cover their head with their saris and only then do Namaskar) – Apastamb Dharmasutra 1.4.14.19

While doing Namaskar the Kundalini gets activated at the chakra which is touched by the folded hands. This leads to the absorption of the Sattva component in greater proportion in the body. Sometimes due to the activation of the Kundalini, Sattva component starts entering the body through the head. But at times the distressing energies try to take advantage of this and mix black energy with the Sattva component. The potential to activate the Kundalini is higher in men as compared to women. Hence they are hardly affected by this negative energy.
Contrary to this, as women are more vulnerable, they get affected by distressing energies to a greater extent and thus they can experience distress. That is why, when doing Namaskar, women are advised to cover their head with the ends of their sari. This creates a barrier between the head and the distressing energies and prevents themfrom penetrating the body of the woman. However, to some extent this also blocks benevolent frequencies from entering the women. (Benevolent frequencies are subtler than negative frequencies; hence they enter a woman to some extent even though the sari covers her head.) However, the proper posture of Namaskar gives maximum Sattva component to an individual and hence women too get required benefits. This shows how God takes care of every devotee. Doing Namaskar without these restrictions is equally effective if the devotee does it with spiritual emotion.




Hindus Gotra System: Scientific Meaning of Gotra in the Vedas
Posted by Mathomathis | Dec 25, 2015 | 3,388 views


In Hindu society, the term gotra means clan. It broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor.

However, all families having same gotra need not be cousins. They can be descendants of sons or disciples or even adopted sons of the Rishi(Seer), who is the root and whose name is used as Gotra. For example if a person says that he belongs to the Kutsa Gotra then it means that he traces back his male ancestry to the ancient Rishi (Saint or Seer) Kutsa.

Gotra means cowshed (Go=Cow, tra=shed) in Sanskrit. Paini defines gotra for grammatical purposes as apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram (IV. 1. 162), which means “the word gotra denotes the progeny (of a sage) beginning with the son’s son. This system was started among Brahmins, with a purpose to classify and identify the families in the community.

Hindu Brahmins identify their male lineage by considering themselves to be the descendants of the 8 great Rishis i.e Sapta rishis (The Seven Sacred Saints) + Bharadwaja Rishi. So the list of root Brahmin Gotras is as follows :

. Angirasa
. Atri
. Gautam
. Kashyapa
. Bhrigu
. Vasistha
. Kutsa
. Bharadwaja

The offspring (apatya) of these eight are gotras and others than these are called ‘ gotravayava. These eight sages are called gotrakarins from whom all the 49 gotras (especially of the Brahmins) have evolved.

For instance, from Atri sprang the Atreya and Gavisthiras gotras. In almost all Hindu families, marriage within the same gotra is prohibited, since people with same gotra are considered to be siblings.

But the hidden reason behind this practice is the ‘Y’ Chromosome which is expected to be common among all male in same gotra. So, the woman too carries similar ‘X’ Chromosome and if married, their offspring may be born with birth defects. Few families even maintain their Pravara which is a list of all seers through which their Gotra was derived.

It connects to the root Seer. Gotra is always passed on from father to children among most Hindus, just like last name (surname) is passed on worldwide. However, among Malayalis and Tulu’s its passed on from mother to children.
 
Additional rule in the Gotra system is that, even if the Bride and Bridegroom belong to different Gotras, they still cannot get married even if just one of their Gotra Pravara matches. Now, why only male carries fixed last name and gotra and why female can change her last name, gotra after marriage?

Genes and Chromosomes Among Humans

Humans have 23 pairs of Chromosomes and in each pair one Chromosome comes from the father and the other comes from the mother. So in all we have 46 Chromosomes in every cell, of which 23 come from the mother and 23 from the father.

Of these 23 pairs, there is one pair called the Sex Chromosomes which decide the gender of the person. During conception, if the resultant cell has XX sex chromosomes then the child will be a girl and if it is XY then the child will be a boy. X chromosome decides the female attributes of a person and Y Chromosome decides the male attributes of a person.

When the initial embryonic cell has XY chromosome, the female attributes get suppressed by the genes in the Y Chromosome and the embryo develops into a male child. Since only men have Y Chromosomes, son always gets his Y Chromosome from his father and the X Chromosome from his mother. On the other hand daughters always get their X Chromosomes, one each from both father and mother.

So the Y Chromosome is always preserved throughout a male lineage (Father – Son – Grandson etc) because a Son always gets it from his father, while the X Chromosome is not preserved in the female lineage (Mother, Daughter, Grand Daughter etc.) because it comes from both father and mother.

A mother will pass either her mother’s X Chromosome to her Children or her father’s X Chromosome to her children or a combination of both because of both her X Chromosomes getting mixed (called as Crossover).

On the other hand, a Son always gets his father’s Y Chromosome and that too almost intact without any changes because there is no corresponding another Y chromosome in his cells to do any mixing as his combination is XY, while that of females is XX which hence allows for mixing as both are X Chromosomes.

Women never get this Y Chromosome in their body. And hence Y Chromosome plays a crucial role in modern genetics in identifying the Genealogy i.e. male ancestry of a person. And the Gotra system was designed to track down the root Y Chromosome of a person quite easily. If a person belongs to Angirasa Gotra then it means that his Y Chromosome came all the way down over thousands of years of timespan from the Rishi Angirasa!

And if a person belongs to a Gotra (say Bharadwaja) with Pravaras (Angirasa, Bhaarhaspatya, Bharadwaja), then it means that the person’s Y Chromosome came all the way down from Angirasa to Bhaarhaspatya to Bharadwaja to the person.

This also makes it clear why females are said to belong to the Gotra of their husbands after marriage. That is because women do not carry Y Chromosome  and their Sons will carry the Y Chromosome of the Father and hence the Gotra of a woman is said to be that of her husband after marriage.

Y is the only Chromosome which does not have a similar pair in the human body. The pair of the Y Chromosome in humans is X Chromosome which is significantly different from Y Chromosome. Even the size of the Y Chromosome  is just about one third the size of the X Chromosome. In other words throughout evolution the size of the Y Chromosome  has been decreasing and it has lost most of its genes and has been reduced to its current size.

Scientists are debating whether Y Chromosome will be able to survive for more than a few million years into the future or whether it will gradually vanish, and if it does so whether it will cause males to become extinct! Obviously because Y Chromosome is the one which makes a person male or a man.

Y chromosome has to depend on itself to repair any of its injuries and for that it has created duplicate copies of its genes within itself. However this does not stop DNA damages in Y chromosome which escape its local repair process from being propagated into the offspring males.
This causes Y Chromosomes to accumulate more and more defects over a prolonged period of evolution and scientists believe that this is what is causing the Y Chromosome to keep losing its weight continuously.

Y Chromosome which is crucial for the creation and evolution of males has a fundamental weakness which is denying it participation in the normal process of evolution via Chromosomal mix and match to create better versions in every successive generation, and this weakness MAY lead to the extinction of Y Chromosome altogether over the next few million years, and if that happens scientists are not sure whether that would cause males to become extinct or not!

And that is because Scientists are not sure whether any other Chromosome in the 23 pairs will be able to take over the role of the Y Chromosome or not.

On the other hand, it is not necessary that humanity will not be able to survive if males become extinct. Note that females do not need the Y Chromosome, and since all females have X Chromosomes, it would be still possible to create a mechanism where X Chromosomes from different females are used to create offspring, say like injecting the nuclei from the egg of one female into the egg of another female to fertilize it and that would grow into a girl child. So yes, that would be a  humanity where only females exist.

Even modern scientists have concluded that children born to parents having blood relation (like cousins) can have birth defects. For example, there is a recessive dangerous gene in one person.

What this means is that say a person is carrying a dangerous abnormality causing gene in one of his chromosome, but whose effect has been hidden in that person (or is not being expressed) because the corresponding gene in the pairing Chromosome is stronger and hence is preventing this abnormality causing gene from activating.

Now there are fair chances that his off-springs will be carriers of these genes throughout successive generations. As long as they keep marrying outside his genetic imprint, there is a fair chance that the defective gene will remain inactive since others outside this person’s lineage  most probably do not have that defective gene.

Now if after 5-10 generations down the line say one of his descendants marries some other descendant who may be really far away cousins. But then there is a possibility that both of them are still carrying the defective gene, and in that case their children will definitely have the defective gene express itself and cause the genetic abnormality in them as both the Chromosomes in the pair have the defective genes.

Hence, the marriages between cousins always have a chance of causing an otherwise recessive, defective  genes to express themselves resulting in children with genetic abnormalities.
So, Ancient Vedic Rishis created the Gotra system where they barred marriage between a boy and a girl belonging to the same Gotra no matter how deep the lineage tree was, in a bid to prevent inbreeding and completely eliminate all recessive defective genes from the human DNA.




Compiled by N. R. Srinivasan