Friday, January 13, 2012

Mundaka upanishad & ritual

Here lets analyze what we can infer from couple of verses from mundaka updanishad.

Mundaka 1.1.5
Mundaka 1.2.7[sacrifice has to be understood as homa, yajna,havana and not as  act of losing or surrendering ]
tatrapara , rgvedo yajurvedah samavedo atharvavedah siksa kalpo vyakaranam niruktam
chando jyotisam iti. Atha para yayatad aksaram adhigam yate
Plava hy ete adrdha yajnarupa astadas oktam avaram yesu karma etat sreyo ye'bhinandanti mudha jara-mytyum e punar evapi yanti
of these the [apara]lower consists of the study of Rg-Veda,yajurvedam ,sama veda,
Atharva veda, phonetics, the code ofrituals, grammar, etymology, metrics and astronomy. Now the higher knowledge is that by which the imperishable is attained.[para]
[ Here the author of Mundaka takes those to task who are busy all the time doing sacrificial rituals and feels he is doing highest good]
Verily they are frail rafts-these sacrifices with their eighteen members, on which such inferior work(devoid of knowledge) rests. The fools, who acclaim this as the highest good, certainly fall again and again into the domain of old age and death

 Thus we come to know that there are 2 kinds of knowledge apara[rituals and astronomy chiefly] para [ science of spirituality ]. Author of Mundaka wants to convey that para is the one that takes us to highest and not the apara. If somebody is trying to fool you by claiming with the techniques of astronomy and rituals he shall help you reach highest do not believe in him. Infact he calls such people fools.

  I preach only the Upanishads. If you look, you will find that I have never quoted  
 anything but the Upanishads.[Vivekananda]
 After reading these two mundakas we understand why vivekananda has high regards to upanishads. Now i understand tagore's  words "Upanishads are jnana yagna which guided people who were suffering from the blow of rituals".

Upanishads questioned the authenticity of people who claimed rituals etc as supreme and redefined the progress of universe  setting the path towards deciphering truth. No doubt historians say Upanishads and other theories about soul during that time gave rise to new religions like Jainism and Buddhism. Intention of Mundaka author is definitely not to degrade rituals and sacrifices. But to caution us the real truth is something else. [In fact author says rituals are good in verses appearing between 1.1.5 and 1.2.7. But stresses that they do not help us other than enjoying heavenly pleasure once the effect depreciates such people sink down. Thus people who are busy in performing rituals ignoring para  rise and fall continuously.]

Although Masters of Upanishads do not subscribe to different worlds, they use terms e.g heaven etc to mean luxury but at the same time remain generous by not defying theories lurking around heaven, indra, apsara... Modern mind almost has unanimously accepted that the different worlds that come across in hindu scriptures are just diff states of mind or human elevation. Also over time we have come across phrases like "jeena yaha, marna yahan iske siva jana kaha",  "A lie amounts to hell, truth amounts to heaven". Alas priestly class are spreading fear of hell and forcing people to perform rituals, but they never expose us to truth.

who are these eighteen members:
  Generally yagas  involve 16 priests, wife and husband are required.  Mundaka says such sacrifices/ritual are futile.
Preistly class has fallen and breaking their own rules too...
  Recently Sriman Yeddi X CM of karnataka performed Vajapeya yaga, as he has no wife, shobha karandlage sat next to him and completed the yaga. To perform this yaga wife is must according to rules, for earning money priestly class has gone to this extent of breaking their own rules.

 Would Lord Rama have approved rituals in today’s scenario?
a) The Apara knowledge also has grown over time, the physical science has shown that burning anything becomes carbon.
b) With so much hunger around, throwing rice bits, clothe pieces, wooden pieces into fire is unjustifiable, that too when man has gone to the extent of saying save every drop of water..  it’s a sin to do this.
d) Rituals  promoted by priestly class are substandard in nature which promises material desires mostly.
Can you believe to do the same yaga different priests take different remuneration.
e) When priestly class can break their own rules such as "crossing sea"[ that was considered to be sin a century ago] and performing rituals violating rules to aid growth of corrupt politicians e.g. kumaraswamy and yeddi for the sake of money.
 Why can’t they change a ritual from a costly affair to just a simple recitation of mantras. Will any priest come forward and do it. Alas which fool will cut the branch on which he is sitting? Who would block the source of income i.e. coming so easily?
If at all LokaKalyana/welfare of this world is the justification of the rituals as claimed in broader sense, then behaviour of priestly class is not helping.

courtesy:  [ Mundaka upanishad by swami sarvananda , Ramakrishna Mutt] whom i have referred to pick the mundaka verses

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