Curiosity Corner: Our Tradition and ways...
In a simple sense, it is the process of becoming learned.
Ashram is the place of abode of the teacher, ashraya is one who has come seeking refuge. Joining with others who are also seeking knowledge is samashrayanam. When a person is ready and willing to be initiated, they approach Acharya (Guru) with a request. Acharya chooses the auspicious day and time when usually in the morning time. The seeker (either as individual an or woman or as married couple) comes to Acharya after having had a bath (symbolising purification) and wearing new or freshly washed dry clothes. The Acharya then provides them with 5 blessings. Those are: Pundra, Tapa, Nama, Mantra, Yaga.
- Tapa Samskaram – Receiving Sankha(Conch) and Chakra (Disc) marks on the upper arm as a symbol of unwavering and steadfast commitment
- Pundra Samskaram – Pundra, or tilaka marks, are vertical lines drawn on the body. The sastras interpret these vertical marks either as symbols representing the Temple of Hari, or as His footprints. Being shown how to wear 12 pundras (dwadasa pundra/tilak) to signify that this body is indeed a abode of Lord Srimannarayana and thus the 12 important sense organs are indeed 12 names of the Lord (Kesava, Narayana and so on until Damodara)
- Na:ma Samskaram i.e. New da:sya name is given. Receiving name means that one understands one’s self to be a servant of Vishnu. In the Sri Sampradaya of Ramanuja, the dasya name of Ramanuja Dasa is suffixed. Being given a da:sya nama so from now on the person can identify themselves as Adiyen Ramanuja Dasan
- Mantra Samskaram – Being taught three important mantras- Tirumantram or Ashtakshari mantram, Dwaya mantram, and Charama slokam;
- Ya:ga Samskaram or Diety worship – Using the mantra which he/she has received from the teacher, the student begins the worship of salagramasila or sri murti, the Deity of Vishnu. Also taught how to do daily tiruvaradhana, and associated discipline regarding food habits and about satvik food.
No. Anyone who has the devotion and commitment to the path shown by Acharya can receive this. There is no restriction by way of gender, age, caste or creed. Because it is a lifetime commitment, usually it is expected that the person seeking to receive Pancha samskaram has the mental and physical ability to fulfil the commitments that entail.
Shouldn’t be an issue. All Acharyas have the same purpose – to lead us on to a better path. They are not in competition.
Ashtakshari Maha Mantra “Om Namo Narayanaya” is simple to utter, but potent in power. This is the most powerful mantra in terms meaning and sound wise.
Mantram is the one which protects them those who chants it. The ancient seers identified the oneness of universal Lord with certain sounds. They mention about one letter sound of om, two letter word of Nama and the five letter word of Narayanaya and by putting these together they come up with the mantra with eight letters I.e., Ashtakshari. This is considered to be eternal because this is the mantra that has been taught by Narayana to Nara in Badrikashram (Badrinath in lower Himalayas, India).
As mentioned in the response to question on Panchasamskaram, this mantra, is also given to the student by the Acharya along with Dvayam and Charamaslokam. Until Acharya Ramanuja, this mantra was kept as a secret and only taught by teachers to selected students or followers only. Acharya Ramanuja was the first person to change this and announce this mantra for the benefit of one and all from the rooftop of Temple Gopuram in Tirukoshtiyur located in present day Tamil Nadu, India. Therefore this Ashtakshari mantra is special for all of us as we approach the Ramanuja Sahasrabdhi.
This mantram should be read before eating anything and there are no restrictions on age, caste, creed, color and count or number of rounds of the mantra. You can chant the Dvaya mantram any time of the day and any number of times.
Sanat means old or from the beginning. Sanatana means very old (tradition), timeless, eternal, permanent etc. Sanatana dharma means righteous path that has been established eons ago, and that which is timeless and permanent. In Vedic tradition, it is believed that this universe including time are within the Lord of the Universe (referred in Upanishads as the ‘Brahman’ the supreme soul). Traditions are considered timeless to mean that they have been specified according to Vedas which predate this material universe and hence exist before time itself. Thus ethical principles that define what is good and what is the righteous or virtuous path and what is the purpose of one’s life that are drawn from Vedas form the fundamental basis of sanatana dharma.
I think this is a trick question. You would not be reading this response unless you have come to this webpage knowing about our great Acha:rya HH Chinna Jeeyar Swami ji. This question is not about our Achar:ya but as a generic term who an Acha:rya is? We have been taught by great scholars that Acha:rya is one who by their own practice shows us the right path to follow. ‘Aacha:ra’ means good behavior or conduct; ‘Aacharana’ means following and practising good behavior. Thus Acha:rya is one who by their knowledge and ocean-like compassion (‘karuna-ambudhi’) show and teach us the right path which they themselves are following thus setting an example.
- On the 11th day in the lunar calendar Ekadashi comes and we get 2 Ekadashis(One in Krishna Paksham, Shukla Paksham) in a month.
- On this day we have to perform Upavasam (Upa – Near, Vasam – Stay) for the Lord i.e. be as near as possible with him.
- We should try to keep our 11 senses (5 Gnanedriyas – Eyes, Ears, Nose, Skin,Tongue), 5 Karmendriyas – Mouth, Hands, Legs, Anus, Genitals) and Manas dedicated in chanting and service of Lord name Srimannarayana.
- We are advised to fast as a way to learn how not to become enslaved by our bodily needs and also to learn and express our gratitude to the Lord and Mother Earth for giving us plentiful food every day of the month and year.
- Fasting is liberating rather than an obligation. It liberates us from bodily urges. Also our teachers tell us that fasting on Ekadasi day and spending time meditating about Lord Srimannarayana will also help us to become peaceful and calm.
- Because it is voluntary and not compulsory, only those who are able to fast should do so. [For example, children, pregnant women, frail and elderly persons or those who are recovering from an ailment are not expected to fast.] However, everyone is encouraged to try our best.
- Ekadasi or eleventh day has also some significance with regard to celestial movement of Sun and thus acts as an important threshold in the change of seasons and that it is for this reason that ‘Chaturmasya’ also starts and ends on Ekadasi days.
- In fact every single day and every moment spent in following the good path shown by Acharya and in the service of others is special and auspicious. So it is not that one day is a good day or another is not a good day. However, as we are mortals and we tend to look for short-cuts, our great teachers have understood this and have provided various alternative ways to help us follow good things and do good actions. Ekadasi is one such simple but important vratam which anyone can do. There is no compulsion.
It is a school or philosophical position translated as ‘qualified monism’ or ‘distinguished monism’ in contrast with ‘Advaita’ school propounded by another Hindu scholar of 8th century by name Shankara [788 to 820 CE]. The main position in Vishista adviata can be summarised in terms of some of the fundamental premises: that there is one universal God who manifests in various forms; that there is a distinction between atman and brahman; that the Lord Omnipresent has various qualities of pureness; that physical world in which we exist is real [and not ‘maya’ or an illusion], that Vedas and Upanishads clearly highlight that the purpose of jeevatman is to recognise the transcendence or the true nature of God and to lead a virtuous life dedicated to realising that universal soul.