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January - March 2023

Anugraha Bhashanam of Paramapujya Jagadguru Shri Shankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji At Sahasrabhojanam At Vedal (Near Kanchipuram) December 2017

गु   ा गु व णुः गु दव ो मह े  रः। गु सा ा परं  त मै ीगुरवे नमः॥ व तु ड महाकाय सूय को ट सम भ ।

िन व ं कु  मे देव सव काय षु सव दा ॥

ुित मृित पुराणानाम् आलयम् क णालयम् । नमािम भगव पाद श करम् लोक श करम् ॥

All of you have come here today for conducting a sacred service tomorrow, viz. Sahasrabhojanam, Vaidika Sammelanam.

You have come to a holy kshetra, the glory of which is not unknown to you. Out of the seven Mokshapuris, this city of Kanchi is the only one in the South. The rest – Ayodhya, Mathura, Maya (Haridwar), Kashi, Avantika (Ujjain) and Dwaraka are all in the North. This city of Kanchi, which confers Mukti, is glorious in many ways.

Once Brahma went to Prayag, the place of Sangam of the three rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi for performing a hundred Yagas. The purpose was that a good deed done confers merit for many succeeding generations. There is mention in Veda about Triveni Sangamam; so ancient and sacred is that place. Rigveda refers to the Sangamam of Ganga and Yamuna as ‘Sarit’- rivers, of ‘Sita’-white, and ‘Asita’- non-white, may be black, red etc. A good deed performed in such a sacred place would confer not just mundane comforts, but Moksha itself. We pay a lot of attention to mundane comforts like good air, light etc., then what to say of Moksha, which is difficult of attainment and which can be secured by bathing in Sangamam of Ganga and Yamuna. When at Kanchipuram, you will reap all merit easily.” Brahma must have aimed at Loka kshema, universal welfare. He came here to Kanchipuram and performed Yaga. From the Yagakunda emerged (not born) Sri Brahma was performing Yagas there, he heard ‘Asariri’ (incorporeal) voice. Asariri speech should be taken as divine voice. The voice said, “It is good that you wish to do a hundred Yagas here. But if you perform Yaga Varadaraja Swamy. He gave darshan with a pleasing face.

When Dasaratha performed Putra Kameshti Yaga, a divine Purusha emerged from the Agni and gave him Payasam. Dasaratha gave the Payasam to Kousalya, Sumitra and Kaikeyi. Four children were born. In Kanchi Puranam, the story is told of Dasaratha’s earlier visit to Kanchi. He heard ‘Asariri’ voice. The Kuladeivam of their family- the Surya Vamsa- was Ambal. Rama, who was born as a child to Dasaratha, was Bhagavan himself; that is a different matter. Ambal appeared in a dream of Dasaratha once at Ayodhya and said that if he would go to Kamakoshtam, where Kamakshi Ambal shines, and perform Japa, Homam Danam etc., he would beget children. Dasaratha came to Kanchi accordingly. He was told by Ambal through Asariri voice that four children with Her part (Amsa) would be born to him. The three letters in the word ‘Kamakshi’ would confer all auspiciousness on us, so says Lalitopakhyanam. Dasaratha sang Stotra in praise of Kamakshi- Kamakshi Stotram. Ayodhya is one of the Sakti Panchabhuta Sthalas; just as we have Siva Panchabhuta Sthalas – Kanchipuram, Jambukeswaram, Arunachalam, Kalahasti and Chidambaram. Ayodhya is said to be Sakti Panchabhuta Sthala of Prithvi (earth); just as Kanchi is the Siva Panchabhuta Sthala of Prithvi.

During the Yaga of Brahma here in Kanchi, Sri Varadaraja appeared and blessed him. Kanchipura Sthala Puranam has a lot of information on this. There is river Vegavathi here; it is the very form of Saraswathi. Rivers Palar and Kampa are also here. Kampa means ‘to shake’. Ambal was doing Puja to Sivalinga; this is the kshetra where Ambal herself did Puja. In some places, Sivalinga is Svayambhu (self-manifested); in some places Sivalingas were installed by Rishis. Six Rishis from North Arcot and South Arcot regions came here when Brahma was performing Yaga. They installed Sivalingas here – Bharadvajeswara, Vasishtheswara and others- and worshipped. The six temples are situated in places known as Visharam, Puduppadi, another near Iluppai etc. These six temples in forest gave rise to the name of Shadaranyam (six forests), which in Tamil became Aarkadu, now Arcot. Ambal made Sivalinga out of sand (earth) and worshipped. Making Linga out of soil is also in our tradition. Now Raja of Kashi has come here. When his father came here many years ago, he made Sivalinga from soil and did Puja with flowers of Arka and Drona. As per tradition, there are impressions –Mudras – of Her Kankana (bangle) in the Sivalinga worshipped by Ambal – ‘Kucha kankana mudritam’. In songs, there are Mudras indicating who composed the song like ‘Guru Guha’ for Dikshitar Kriti etc. In olden days, there used to be a Mudra used in paddy bins to check whether there is any reduction in the level of fill.

In the Panchalinga Kriti, there is mention of Sri Ekamreswara, the Linga made of earth. Thus this kshetra of Kanchipuram is that of Ambal, Ekamreswara and Vishnu, and special Sakti kshetra. Though there are temples for all deities, there exist more than a hundred Siva temples here. More than fifteen large Gopurams exist. Small Vimanas are there numbering more than a hundred. Brahmotsavam and other festivals are numerous. Where our Srimatham is located, Utsava processions come on 70 to 80 days out of 365 days in a year. Utsavas of temples of Kamakshi Ambal, Ekamreswara, Varadaraja Perumal, Kachchapeswara, K u m a r a s w a m y o f K u m a r a ko tt a m , Ulagalanda Perumal and many others are celebrated, making this a divine centre. When we do good deeds in a sacred kshetra, merit increases.

You have all come to this kshetra for the Sahasrabhojanam programme, for which arrangements are being made. This is also an opportunity to see the place, an effort to satisfy Loukikam and Vaidikam. Our country is noted for Dharma, Vedas, Shastras, sixtyfour arts – ‘Chatushshashti kalayai Namah’. In such a country, we should spread Dharma. Those who do propagation of Dharma should first of all reside here. Such attitude and environment should be developed in a large measure. Then such tasks can be undertaken in plenty. This is just a beginning. We have to work hard to propagate Dharma. Like churning for butter and preparing ghee, sustained effort has to be put in. Amrita was got only after long churning. We need proper infrastructure, volunteers, donors, Pundits, persons who contemplate, persons who serve with ‘Suchi’ and ‘Ruchi’ and so on; ‘Suchi’ means ritual cleanliness; ‘Ruchi’ includes talking in a measured, sweet manner to the extent necessary. Nowadays we hear about HR. We need Heritage (HR) Preservation.

If you look at your forefathers, who lived some 60-70 years ago, you will find that they all lived in large numbers on the banks of rivers – Tamraparni, Kaveri, Gadilam, Palaru etc., at the locations of sacred kshetras and Divya Desams for the sake of developing Shastras and Sampradayas (traditions). They set up Agraharas and engaged in Nitya Karma Anushtanams, Siva Puja etc. Materials required for Pujas –flowers, Tulasi, Bilva, Water etc. – were available locally in villages. All facilities required for study of Vedas and Shastras  and Anushtanas were organized locally. Nowadays we create cities and make facilities available. But in those days, they organized facilities even in villages in an integrated manner –workforce, business, administration, academics, agriculture etc. Even music and fine arts developed. When people from such background migrated to cities, they brought this integrated culture. All of you might have come here from different places with different educational backgrounds. But what has integrated you all is Iswara bhakti, Guru bhakti, Sadachara (good conduct) and pride in one’s lineage.

Sri Mahaperiyaval in a hundred years taught us about rituals and purity (Aachara, Anushtanams) and conducted himself strictly in accordance with them. He wanted us to propagate all this. Now a number of Veda Pathasalas have come up all over India.

How to make the children of the present generation interested in Shastras and Sampradayas, how to make them find time for all this, how to teach them, how to do it well and in time – these are the challenges. Doing good deeds in time is important. Using new tools, we should develop our old culture. Languages should not be forgotten; Samskrit should be spread.

Getting so many of you together at one place is by itself significant; that too, so many Vaidikas. Only by making enquiries, it has been possible to be aware of many Vaidikas. It might have been possible to organize this gathering at another place in a good building; but you have all come and gathered here in a sacred kshetra. This is an opportunity to render introduction among yourselves, find about each other’s religious ( Gotra , Kuladeivam etc. ) , educational background, involvement in activities like bhajans, Kumbhabhishekam of temples etc. with reference to Dharma and practice of tradition. This desirable activity can be done in a small scale too, but with good frequency. This encourages positive thinking to plan such activities in future; one thinks of one day Atirudram and so on. We need volunteers to work in a religious atmosphere; we do get volunteers for mundane activities. So we need to train them in large numbers. There are lots of good things in our religion; they need to be taken to the last man. Great effort is required for presentation and spread of such information. There has been a letup in the past; now we have to get everybody on to this task.

Even at home, small Pujas like Tulasi Puja, Venkateswara Samaradhana etc. should be organized; youth should be involved in them and brought together. Where Chandi Homam, Atirudram etc. are organized, youth should be made to participate actively. As directed by Sri Periyaval, some people prepare and bring sweets and snacks and distribute in Veda Pathasalas on Anusham days. Though this was meant to help students, it also serves the purpose of engaging householders in activities related to Veda. It may not be possible for all to engage full-time in Veda related activities. Such small activities to strengthen Vaidikam should be increased, much like micro- finance, micro-charity etc. There are many such requirements. If it is village, planting of trees like Peepul (Arasa), fig (Athi), bilva etc. can be undertaken. That is required for S a m i t . I f a l l c h i l d re n s ta r t d o i n g Samitadhanam, is Samit available for all now? For the last couple of years, ‘Pori’ (fried rice) is being offered as Neivedyam (offering) in the Adhishthanam of Sri Periyaval; ‘Pori’ is being supplied by someone now. Such requirements are there – beaten rice (Avul), Kunkum, Akshata, Ghee from good Gosala for temples, Veda Pathasalas, Homams, Yagas etc. People may give donations. But volunteers are needed to participate in Vaidika functions; for some activities, men are required; for some, women are required- like serving food. Duties and opportunities exist both for men and women.

Utilising the available opportunities, everyone should engage in activities of Dharma. Such activities as this Sahasrabhojanam generate further interest and confer merit. Just as Brahma performed Yaga in Triveni Sangamam first and then here in Kanchipuram, you have all come here for a sacred act; such acts bring out the greatness and details of the kshetras also. You are doing this in Satyavrata kshetra, which is described in Swasti Vachanam:

  ीमदअ खल भूम लाल ार ‘5य शं  ोिट देवतासे वत  ीकामाt”ीदेवीसनाथ ीमद एका नाथ

 ीमहादेवीसनाथ ीह गhरनाथ साt”ा ार परमाrध ान स तनामा त –           का ी दcjqt”े’5े. . . This Satyavrata kshetra confers Satya, i.e.

Gnana; it makes up deficiencies, bestows completeness and full fruit. Today is Dvadashi, Pradosham day; tomorrow is Chaturdashi; then comes the star Ardra, the star of Parameswara, when Ardra Abhishekam takes place. We have just observed Vaikuntha Ekadashi. These are days convenient for Loukikas also. All of you should engage in this sacred activity and propagate Dharma; ‘Dharmo Rakshati Rakshitah’. The spread has to be educationwise and practicewise. The attitude of philanthropy as well as of taking active interest should be developed through kind words. That is why educational projects have been started.

We must make arrangements for study of Vedas and Shastras in addition to secular studies. That will be economically helpful too. It will help parents. There are practical problems – who will take the child to school – mother, father or grandfather? Traffic, school timings etc.; So many extra classes – music, Sanskrit etc.; sometimes mother and father have also to study certain things in order to guide the child. Hence whatever would be useful in South Indian society in both mundane and religious spheres should be taught in special schools. Now there are some special schools – Vaikhanasa school, Pancharatra school (started in a small way), Sampradaya schools for girl children, school for Sivacharyas started in Mayavaram. The school in Rajakilpakkam near Chennai teaches Veda and normal school subjects. In Bengaluru, a hundred children in a school are studying Vedic Suktas- Purusha Suktam etc., Mantra Pushpam, Bhagavad Gita etc. together with normal school subjects. Plans are under way for a school to teach Tirukkural and Gita, Yoga, Jyotisha etc. Thus we should have students studying Veda in Gurukula system as well as those in part-time Vedic education system. All students should study something of religion and arts in addition to their normal field of study like science, mathematics, law, engineering, other new courses etc. Thus they should be able to learn about their Dharma, symbols and lineage. Efforts are under way for this. If these students nurture our culture by being pure vegetarians and engaging in cow protection and keeping in mind Gita, Ganga and Gayatri, it is not only they who would benefit and progress, but others too would learn by looking at them. It is not that we are concentrating only on a section of people. As stated in Manusmriti:

एतददेश  सूत सकाशादअ ज नः ।

चhर’5ं rशt”ेर;qृrथcjqj सव”मानवाः (:२०)

all people of the world would learn by looking at them. If we focus on Dharma and nurture it at any one place, bhakti and culture will grow through that. Our minds will be happy, contented. The purpose of this birth would be fulfilled; the birth would be fruitful.

Hara Hara Namah Parvatipataye, Hara Hara Mahadeva.