Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Holy Cow !

It is always interesting how we blindly follow our elders. In most of the circumstance, we don't understand the need or necessity of the rituals but still follow it, obediently and unquestioningly. Now, I've always been a rebel and most of the times, I used to rebel just for the sake of it, though I have outgrown the habit and I'm a bit more focussed in my rebellion and now, almost inevitably choose the Hindu rituals as my targets, because my family try to force me to participate in rituals they don't know about.

My sister's house's Grihapravesham took place on Sunday. As per the custom, we perform aarthi to a cow and get it to come inside the house. We also noticed a street dog trying to get in (I later found out that the dog was roaming around the empty site first and then the half-finished house, so in a sense, it was the first ever resident of the house ! ). Almost inevitably, it was shooed away. 

I was upset, seriously. I felt sorry for the dog. I have no reservations against worshipping the cow, but I really do have serious concerns when the worship isn't universal. Cow may be sacred, but equally sacred is the dog. Don't the upanishads say God is everywhere - "Eko devah sarvabhootheshu goodah, sarvavyaapi sarvabhoothaantharaathmaa" ? When we worship a cow, what do we worship ? The cow itself, or the perceived sacredness of the cow ? Now, since the divine is supposedly present everywhere, how come a dog is unworshippable, and is actually considered dirty ? There is also a ban on cow slaughter ... I wonder why ? Everytime I take an antibiotic, I kill millions of bacteria in my system (even useful ones). And don't tell me that bacteria are not sacred. If a cow can be considered sacred, spiritually speaking, a single bacterium is also equally sacred. I can take this argument to more ridiculous lengths, but I think there is a lot of absurdity that has seeped into the rituals. 

And there's more. The band of vaadyaars aka purohits aka pandits (there were around 5 of them, most of them oldies, with beards) started chanting the vedas, most of which I don't know. But, when they started chanting the purushasooktham, I'm curious. I wonder what the relevance of chanting purushasooktham to a Grihapravesham ceremony ... not that it is a shooting offense, but I don't see the relevance, unless of course, they chant the same vedic verses for everything. They also skipped the last few verses of vishnusooktham ... The chanting itself was another comedy. Vedic chanting is supposed to be measured, with proper incantations, and stresses at right places. It is not supposed to be a Formula 1 race, but it actually turned out to be exactly that. One of them didn't know most of the vedas, another did, but was chanting at top gear most of the time. Others used books ... So, what the hell (should I rather say, what the heaven ?) were they trying to achieve ? One reason may be that, Sunday, April 30th being an "auspicious day", they had many such functions to perform, so they were trying to speed up things. Give me a break, I've been watching them ever since I learnt to recite a few upanishads, and I know most of the vaadyaars don't chant properly, skip things in the middle, and come to think of it, don't even know the meaning of what they chant. The last point may not stand scientific proof, but I've asked the meaning of Gayathri Manthram from a lot of people, and most don't know. And how else shall I interpret the recitation of purushasooktham in a Grihapravesham ceremony ?

I can go on more, but let that be a different post !

8 Comments:

At Sunday 7 May 2006 at 1:56:00 PM IST, Blogger Aravindan said...

well....we remove slippers wehn we go to temples....do ualso folllow it?

why remove slippers? the slippers protect from so much wear and tear. i m talking abt even slippers u use @ home specially. still u dont put it when u go to PERUMAL room....thats how certain things are....

 
At Monday 8 May 2006 at 5:50:00 PM IST, Blogger K7 said...

i agree with you in the last para only .The chanting has become so mechanical that there's absolutely no heart in it. The entire synergy of divine frequencies is missed in the picture.

My instinct tells me that there is some possible flaw in the earlier paras ..... lemme just ponder more and the moment ... i get it i 'll be the first to comment ...

 
At Monday 8 May 2006 at 11:14:00 PM IST, Blogger K7 said...

Somehow ur blog set my thought process rolling and here's my reason as to why the way you wrote the first para was not correct ..

Everyaction and every reaction in this nature has a reason ... You take antibiotic to kill a section of bacteria so that .... a million others can be saved .... "Principle of Quarantine i should say"

You shoo a dog away from a ceremony because that's the language dogs best understand ... You prevent a stray dog because it carries a lot of filth and infectious germs which might be harmful to you ... People even shoo away normal stray cows/bulls .......

RATIONAL PEOPLE take action for always for the better good of the community .... That is what i can say !!!! Would like to hear from u too on this .....

@aravindan ....
you not only take out slippers at perumal temple but inside home and all other places where u want to maintain hygiene ....

 
At Monday 15 May 2006 at 12:59:00 PM IST, Blogger Sridhar Narasimhan said...

@aravindan:
I agree with k7 that it is due to hygiene reasons. If you think about it more, God is supposed to exist everywhere, not just in temple or PERUMAL room but also in your slippers :)
I feel it is fundamentally important for me to understand why "certain things are" in some way and not in some other way. Asking right questions gets the proper answer usually ...

 
At Monday 15 May 2006 at 5:22:00 PM IST, Blogger Sridhar Narasimhan said...

@k7:
One your first point I partially agree - it is important to chant properly as per rhythm, but it is more important to understand what we are chanting

Now for the bovine matters: I haven't seen people perform aarthi to pet dogs either :) So, people do tend to believe that there is something "extra" divine in a cow. Somehow, I can't figure out why. Probably, it may be because cow was very useful for the occupations of people at that time, and hence very precious (demand and supply problem ?). Over the centuries, it has just got solidified into a belief that it is more "sacred" (whatever that means).
About the antibiotics, I have strayed into a topic that I haven't elaborated here, so I'll cover it in a separate post :)

 
At Thursday 25 May 2006 at 2:06:00 PM IST, Blogger K7 said...

@sridhar

 
At Thursday 25 May 2006 at 2:10:00 PM IST, Blogger K7 said...

@Sridhar

The cow is worshipped in India and sacrificed in other countries...
The dog is kicked in India but is more than a pal in America ...

All God's way of ensuring that nothing except himself is supreme in the universe... What is kept on head at one place is booted at some other place....

 
At Monday 10 September 2007 at 4:47:00 PM IST, Anonymous Venu said...

Man.. I'm glad to meet someone who just not another in the crowd ..

 

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