Monday, October 16, 2006

Sandhya Worship - 01

Hare Krishna Friends,

The incident below has been borrowed from the book “Dialogues with the Guru” (published in Tamil as “Then Muzigal”) compiled by Sri Jnanananda Bharathi The conversation is bit lengthy, I will break it into two and send out in two separate emails. Each word is worth beyond any measure.

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The following conversation is between a touring Educational officer and His Holiness Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Mahasvami.

O. I have occasions of being in constant touch with young boys, mostly Brahmanas studying in schools which I have to inspect. I have found that even the boys who perform their Sandhya do so more as a form, than as real worship. I shall be very grateful if Your Holiness would give me some valuable hints which I could convey to them?

H.H. I am very glad to see that you are not content with mere official routine of inspection but desire to utilize the occasion for the betterment of the boys. It will be well if all educationists, inspecting officers or teachers realize that they have been entrusted with the very grave responsibility of training of young men in the most impressionable period of their lives. In my opinion they are really to blame if they confine their attention only to the prescribed text books and neglect the spiritual side of the younger generation.

O. I always keep that end before me and I don’t miss any opportunity of talking to the boys and giving them some useful advice. It is mainly with a view to do that work better that I request Your Holiness to give some practical suggestions.

H.H. Even if the boys to whom you propose to convey such suggestions may not benefit by them, you will certainly be benefited.

O. Certainly.

H.H. You may therefore, for the present, ignore the boys and ask such questions the answers to which are likely to be useful to you.

O. The first question which suggests itself to me is with reference to the Sandhya worship. What is the deity or upasya Deva in the Sandhya worship?

H.H. Before we consider that, please tell me what you understand ordinarily by the Sandhya worship?

O. By Sandhya worship, we mean the worship of the rising Sun, the setting Sun or the Sun in the mid heavens.

H.H. Quite so. Comprehensively speaking, you mean worship of the Sun?

O. Yes.

H.H. You tell me that Sandhya is the worship of the Sun and yet you ask me what is worshipped in the Sandhya. Don’t you think it is an unnecessary question?

O. Put so, it may seem an unnecessary question, but my real question is, what is the Sun that is worshipped?

H.H. What do you understand ordinarily by the Sun?

O. We mean the bright celestial orb in the sky.

H.H. Then it is the bright celestial orb that is worshipped.

O. But that orb is, according to science is mere inert matter in a state of high combustion and is certainly not worthy of being worshipped by intelligent beings like ourselves. It can neither hear our prayers nor respond to them. I cannot believe that our ancestors were so ignorant as to address their prayers to mere burning mass of matter.

H.H. I quite agree with you. They could never have been so foolish.

O. What then did they see in the Sun to justify their prayers being addressed to it?

H.H. You said just now that addressing of prayers to inert matter cannot be justified by reason.

O. Yes.

H.H. What then must be the nature of the entity to which a prayer is addressed?

O. The primary condition is that it must not be mere inert matter, but must be endowed with intelligence.

H.H. And the second condition?

O. That it must be able to hear our prayers and be powerful enough to answer them.

H.H. Quite so. If our ancients were not fools and yet addressed their prayers to the Sun, their conception of the Sun must have been quite different from that of mere inert matter, in a state of high combustion.

O. Yes, they must have also postulated to it intelligence, the capacity to hear us and the ability to help us.

H.H. The “us” including not only all those who are now living to raise their hands in prayer to the Sun, but also the generations, past and future, infinite in number though they may be?

O. Of course.

H.H. The entity that is worshipped as the Sun is therefore one whose intelligence or ability knows no limitation of space or time.

O. It must be so.

H.H. You have now got your answer to the question as to who is worshipped in the Sandhya? It is an intelligent Being, Omniscient and Omnipotent in the matter of hearing and responding to its votaries.

O. Your Holiness then means that it is a Deva who has his habitation in the solar orb?

H.H. Quite so. He has not only his habitation there, but the solar orb itself is his physical body.

O. Your Holiness means that the Deva enlivens the solar orb, just as we do our physical bodies?

H.H. Just so.

O. If then he is embodied just like us, how does he happen to have such high intelligence or power as to merit our obeisance?

H.H. He attained that status by virtue of the appropriate Karma and Upasana done by him in a previous life.

O. Does Your Holiness mean that he was one time just like us and that he attained that status by his endeavor?

H.H. Yes

O. Then he is no more than a Jiva, which I also am. Why should a Jiva make prostration before another Jiva, howsoever superior?

H.H. Why should your son or pupils respect you and why should you show respect to your superior officers? Are not both of you Jivas?

O. No doubt we are. But we respect our superiors as it is in their power to help us or injure us, if they so desire.

H.H. That is a very low kind of respect. Anyhow, taking even that kind of respect, we must respect Surya Deva if it is in his power to help us or injure us, if he so desires.

O. Of course.

H.H. Being a Jiva as much as your superior officers, he will help you if you appeal to him for help or injure you if you ignore or despise him. In your own interest then, you are bound to worship him and secure his good will.

O. But I need not court the favor nor fear the displeasure of my superior officer, if I carry out the duties of my office faithfully.

H.H. Quite so.

O. If I preserve that attitude, there is no reason why I should propitiate my superior officer.

H.H. Certainly not.

O. Similarly, if I carry out strictly the duties enjoined on me by the Sastras, I need not propitiate any other Jiva, be he the highest Deva.

H.H. Quite so.

O. Then, should I not give up the worship of Surya Deva?

H.H. Certainly you may, unless of course such worship is part of the duties enjoined on you by the Sastras.

O. How can that be?

H.H. It is true that an honest and strict officer in performing the duties of his office need not mind the pleasure or the displeasure of his immediate superior. But the mere fact that he thinks it necessary or obligatory to perform those duties properly, shows that he has the ultimate end as the pleasure, or avoidance of the displeasure of a still higher officer who is superior to him as well as to his immediate superior. Even if he has no personal acquaintance with that higher officer, he always has in the background of his mind an undefined power, call it the King or the Government, when he performs the duties of his office. And the power has the ability to benefit him by recognizing his services or to punish him by taking not of his delinquencies. Further, that power rules both him and his immediate superior officer. If therefore that power requires him to behave in a particular manner towards his superior officer, he cannot afford to disobey that injunction, for if he disobeys, not only does he incur the displeasure of that officer but also of the higher power.

O. That is so.

H.H. Similarly, if a power which rules both you as well as Surya Deva requires you to conduct yourself in a particular manner towards that Deva, you cannot afford to neglect that injunction, but must conform to it or take the risk of incurring the displeasure of that Deva as also the higher power.

O. It is no doubt so. But in that case, in prostrating myself before Surya Deva, I shall be really worshipping the higher power even when my worship may seem addressed to Surya.

H.H. What of that?

O. If I am able to conceive of such a higher power who rules even Surya. That power is really the worshipped entity although to all appearances the worship is addressed to Surya only.

H.H. Quite so.

O. But Your Holiness said that it was Surya Deva who was worshipped?

H.H. Yes it is correct so far as persons who are not able to conceive of a higher power are concerned. To those however who can conceive of that power, He is the real upasya. That power is called Hiranyagarbha. He enlivens and en-souls not only the Surya, but all Devas. He enlivens and inhabits not only the solar orb but all things. He is cosmic personality who is the soul of all things.

****** To be continued ******



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