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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Maha Periva's clarification on Dharma

Source: In the Presence of the Divine
Narratives of Experiences with Maha Periyaval - Volume 1
Translated by: Sujatha Vijayaraghavan

There were innumerable Sivalingas in and around Kanchipuram, in the cultivable fields, gardens, groves, churches, dargahs and cremation-grounds. The Sivalingas are exposed to the sun in all these places without so much as a thatched roof. On Periyava's instructions, some devotees put up a roof above these Sivalingas, though temples could not be constructed, and also made arrangements for puja to be performed once a day.

Two devotees from Sri Matha went everyday and performed puja for ten or twelve Sivalingas, which did not have any cover whatsoever. Everyday, they woudl leave in a vehicle belonging to Sri Matha and perform abhisheka and puja followed by offerings of fruit. When they returned to Sri Matha they would give Periyava the prasada. 

Two of the Sivalinga's worshipped by these two devotees were located within the cremation ground. One of these two devotees, Periyava's attendant Ramamurthi, was disturbed and voiced his doubt.

"How can we enter Sri Matha without purifying ourselves with a bath after visiting the cremation-ground? Is it not improper?"

The other devotee Chandra, also Periyava's attendant, said, "We are not going to the cremation-ground to participate in the rituals performed there. We are going there to perform Siva-puja. It is not proper to perform Siva-puja and bathe immediately afterward. We are not polluted because we entered the cremation-ground!"

The argument soon became very heated and reached a stage when the two devotees were ready to exchange blows. The two quoted the Dharmasastra, tradition and ritual and so on, in turn. Both parties had four or five supporters each, and so both views were endorsed. Well, anyone could join either of the two parties, but who was to give the judgement? Finally, the case was taken to the Supreme Court of Sri Matha.

Periyava listened to both sides of the argument. Finally the words he spoke were pearls of wisdom.
"Ramamurthi's consciousness is that, on entering the cremation ground he is polluted. The moment such a thought arises, he becomes polluted. So, let him come in after a bath. Chandra does not feel that he is entering the cremation ground. Although the place does not have a temple-tower and sanctum sanctorium, he feels that he is entering a place of worship and so performs Siva-puja to the chanting of mantras. So there is no pollution in his case. He believes that he does not accumulate demerit. So neither is he polluted nor does he need to bathe".

Those involved in a hair-splitting verbal battle were pleasantly shocked. "What a clear and infallible conclusion Periyava has given us! How subtly he has made us realise that what is dharma to one person need not necessarily be another's too!" A prefect soul's assessment has to be perfect too!

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