Tuesday, May 22, 2012



June 2012 compiled by N.R. Srinivasan


We have in the Taittiriya Upanishad a valedictory exhortation from the sage (Rishi) to his students (sishyas) in the Gurukala on successful completion of Vedic studies. This reveals to us something about the system of education prevalent in Vedic period that produced the cultured and respected subjects in society amongst the ancient inhabitants of India. The teacher instructs the pupil thus:

"Vedam anoochya-aachaaryo-ante-vaasinam-anusaasti | Satyam vada | Dharmam chara | Svaadhyaayaan maa pramadah | Aachaaryaaya priyam dhanam-aahritya prajaatantum maa vyavac-chetseeh | Satyaan na pramaditavyam | Dharmaan na pramaditavyam | Kusalaan na pramadi-tavyam | Bhootyai na pramaditavyam | Svaadhyaaya pravachanaabhyaam na pramaditavyam ||

Deva pitri kaaryaabhyaam na Pramaditavyam | Maatru devo bhava | Pitru devo bhava | Aachaarya devo bhava | Atithi devo bhava ||

Yaanyan-avadyaani karmaani | Taani sevitavyaani | Noe itaraani | Yaany-asmaakagam sucharitaani | Taani tvayoepaasyaani | Noe itaraani ||

Ye ke chaasmac-chreyaamsoe braahmanaah | Teshaam tvayaasane na prasvasitavyam |
Sraddhayaa deyam | Asraddhayaa deyam | Sriyaa deyam | Hriyaa deyam || Bhiyaa deyam | samvidaa deyam ||

Atha yadi te karmavichikitsaa vaa vrittivichikistaa vaa syaat | Ye tatra braahmanaas- sam-marsinah | Yuktaa aayuktaah | Alookshaa dharmakaamaah syuh | Yathaa te tatra varteran Tathaa tatra vartethah ||

Athaabhyaa-khyaateshu | Ye tatra braahmanaah sam-marsinah | Yuktaa Aayuktaah | Alookshaa dharma-kaamaah syuh | Yathaa te teshu varteran | Tathaa teshu vartethah ||

Esha aadesah | Esha upadesah | Eshaa vedopanishat | Etad-anusaasanam | Evam upaasitavyam | Eva-muchaitad-upaasyam ||" (Taitariya Upanishad I-XI-1 Sikshaavalli)

"Speak what is true. Do your duties. Continue, without neglect, the daily study of the Vedas*. Now that you have come to the end of your stay with your teacher, marry and bring forth progeny. Do not swerve from Truth and Dharma, and contribute something useful to the social economy. Achieve greatness, and do not fail to refresh your memory in respect of what you have learnt. Remember the gods and your ancestors. Honor your Mother. Look upon her as God. Honor your Father. Look upon him as God. Honor your Teacher. Look upon him as God. Honor your Guest. Look upon him as if God came to receive your attention. May you ever exercise your understanding and, distinguishing the good from the blame-worthy! Avoid the latter and always do what is good. Follow all that was good in your teacher's life, not any other. You will meet with better men than even the teachers with whom you have lived. Show them due respect.

Give gifts with faith, not casually but with joy, with humility, with fear and with wisdom.

If your mind is troubled with any doubt as to what is right or wrong, follow the example of gentle and pious elders living in your neighborhood in regard to those matters. These are the codes of conduct. These are the teachings".

The above passage constitutes the sacred commandments not only for the out-going student but also for all followers of Sanatana Dharma. These are:
1) Advice regarding the individual himself; 2) His relationship with others; 3) His right action in the world; 4) His attitude towards the eminent men of culture; 5) The laws of charity; and 6) His duty to follow the eminent living men of his own times.

Dr. N. S. Anantarangacharya, Selections from the Upanishads, Bangalore, India.
Swami Chinmayananda, Taittareeya Upanishad, Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, Mumbai, India.

*It may not be possible for migrant Hindus to practice Vedas without a Guru. However they should at least study Mantrapushpas like Purushasookta, Narayansookta, Srisookta, Sri Rudram, Yopam Pushpam and Nasadeeya Sukta with proper intonation and meaning along with Geetaa Chaaleesa or Sataslokee Geetaa. They contain the essence of Vedas.

Mahaa Naaraayan Upanishad is a small Upanishad but contains some of the Sooktas mentioned above, Vedic sacrificial (Homa) Mantras, Vedic Mantras used in daily rituals and worship, Meditation on Brahman (Brahmopaasana) and Nyaasa, the way to attain liberation. In a way, this is a condensed version of Vedas.

Sunday Schools could teach some of these to children also. Many of these are chanted during worship of the Lord and therefore it will help to follow the worship with understanding. Many of these are reproduced with meaning and explanation in many of my discourses posted on the Blog: <nrsrini.blogspot.com>

Mantras from Saraswati Sookt and Medhaa Sookta from Vedas are given below suitable for prayer during graduation Pooja.

[Sarasvati is the power (Sakti) and the consort of Brahma, the creator. Hence she is the procreatrix, the mother of the entire creation. Being the consort of Brahma, she represents his power and intelligence without which organized creation is impossible. So she is pictured as white and dazzling. Sarasvati means 'the flowing one'. In Rigveda she is a deity presiding over river. She is the river of consciousness. Hence she is connected with fertility and purification. She is a personification of all knowledge—sciences, arts, crafts and skills. Clad in a spotless white apparel and seated on a lotus seat she holds a in her four hands lute (Veenaa), rosary (Akshamaalaa) and book (pustakam).

Isavasyopanishad says: "Avidyayaa mrityum teertvaa vidyayaa amritam asnute"—"We
transcend hunger and thirst through secular sciences, and then alone can obtain immortality through spiritual sciences". [It is true spiritual illumination (vidya) alone can give beatitude (Moksha): but at the same time secular knowledge (avidya), the sciences and arts of the world need not be and should not be neglected.]

Praanoe devee sarasvatee vaajobhir vaajaneevatee | dheenaam-avitry-avatu ||
[Oh Sarasvati! Bless me with plenty and opulent life and be the controller of our thoughts!]
Paavaka nah Sarasvatee | Vaajoebhih vaajaneevati yajnam vashtu dhiyaavasuh || [Sarasvati is our purifier. She is the giver of plenty and opulent life. She is the treasure of intelligence and thoughts.]
Choedayitree soonritaanaam chetantee sumateenaam | yajnam dadhe Sarasvatee || [She bestows good speech. She brings good thoughts to mind. May she bless this sacrifice (Yajna)!]
Mahoe arnah Sarasvatee | pra chetayati ketunaa | dhiyoe visvaa viraajati || [May you awaken the great truth in me by helping me to visualize consciousness! May you brighten all my thoughts!]
--from Sarasvatee-sooktam, Rigveda Samhita


Medhaa Sooktam contains a bunch of Vedic Mantras for meditation on Medhaa-Devi for granting intelligence. Medha means intelligence and Sookta means good sayings. With the blessings of Goddess after chanting these mantras we will be speaking nice and good words only to others that will carry force and make life pleasant and more meaningful and make us useful citizens. This is also a prayer to grant us wealth.

These Mantras will be quite appropriate to chant during the graduation pooja conducted at home and temples. It is customary to conduct Saraswati Pooja for students on the event of their graduation with appropriate mantras after which they will be moving out from their parents in pursuit of higher studies.

Medhaa devee jushamaanaa na aagaad-viswaachee bhadra sumanasya-maanaa |
Tvayaa jushtaa jushamaanaa duruktaan brahmad-vadema vidadhe suveeraah ||
May the Goddess of Intelligence who pervades all things and who is always associated with good-will towards all, come to us with love. Oh Goddess! May we who were previously indulging in vile words, speak words that are good and virtuous, after being blessed in that endeavor!

Tvayaa jushta rishir-bhavati devi tvayaa brahma-aagatasree-ruta tvayaa |
Tvayaa jushtas-chitram vindate vasu saa noe jushasva dravineno na medhe ||

Oh Goddess! one becomes a wise person (seer) being blessed by you; one becomes Brahma,one who attains spiritual wealth and knowledge; one who gains fabulous wealth blessed by you; Oh Goddess Medha of that fame, please bless us with that wealth!

Medhaam ma indro dadaatu medhaam devee sarasvatee |
Medhaam me asvinau devaa vaa-dhattaam pushkara-srajaa ||
May Indra grant us intelligence! May Goddess Sarasvati grant us intelligence1! May the Asvin twins grant us intelligence adorned with lotus flower garlands! [Goddess Lakshmi is the presiding Goddess for Indra and others]

Apsaraasu cha yaa medhaa gandharveshu cha yan-manah |
Devee medhaa manushyajaa saa maam medhaa surabhir-jushataam ||
May the glorious intelligence that abounds in the divine nymphs (apsaras), gandharvas and divines and noble men come to me! [In essence may the intelligence found in all others come to me]

Aamaam Medhaa surabhir-visva-roopaa hiranya-varnaa jagatee jagamyaa |
Oorjasvatee payasaa pinvamaanaa saa maam medhaa suprateekaa jushataam ||
May the Goddess Medhaa who is the most celebrated, who is the cosmic energy with golden hue and who is ever on the move come to me!

Mayi medhaam mayi prajaam mayaa-agnis-tejoe dadhaatu |
mayi medhaam mayi prajaam mayeendra indriyam dadhaatu |
mayi medaham mayi prajaam mayi sooryo bhraajo dadhaatu ||
May Agni the God of Fire bless me with intelligence, progeny and fame! May Indra the God of the Divines bless me with intelligence, progeny and sense organs! May Soorya bless me with intelligence, progeny and brilliance!    

[Tennessee in America observed May 8 as Teacher's Appreciation Day. Teachers teach more than just the curricula. They teach manners and acts of helpfulness. They teach neatness and organizational skills. They teach healthy habits and responsibility for actions. They teach decision making how to be good citizens and myriad of other things besides 3R's. Our schools and teachers provide practically every service a child will need in life except a living home with religious instruction which should be left up to the parent. Few professionals impact as many lives as teachers do. We should respond when criticisms are hurled at our schools and think of the huge responsibility we place in the hands of our teachers. They deserve praise and support not criticisms. Sunday School Teachers of Hindu American community have taken the responsibility of giving religious, spiritual and moral instructions to children in Hindu Temples thus relieving the mothers of their responsibility realizing the busy nature of working mothers in USA. It is worth dedicating this day to teachers if we want to celebrate this day along with the nation or on Guru Poornima Day and celebrating it with special worship in temples, in keeping with the tradition of socio-religious life focus of Hindu Americans. Guru Poornima Day can also be dedicated to Great Gurus like Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhava, Chaitanya, Ramkrishna Paramahamsa and others as is customary.