(Translation of Hindi Discourse: Bhartiya Sanskrati Ke Pratik Shikha Aur Sutra)
Many people have great faith in doing havan (yajna or yagya). This faith is inculcated in their minds since the childhood. Havan is generally performed on every religious ceremony in the Hindu families; but nobody knows about the intimate relation between yagya and yagyopavit. Yagya symbolizes noble deeds and yagyopavita (sutra) indicates noble qualities that should be integral parts of a Brahmin’s life. Who is a Brahmin? The one who strives for his inner enlightenment; who expects minimum from the society; and gives his best to the society. The commencement of wearing of the sutra and tightening of the shikha
at the time of initiation (diksha) into Gayatri sadhana
is referred in the shastras as dwijatva the second birth, and the one who wears the sacred thread (sutra) and keeps the shikha
is called a dwija (born anew - as Brahmin). That means: whatever family one may be born into, wearing the sutra is his second birth, which is that of a Brahmin. What does that imply? It conveys that the beginning of wearing the sutra symbolizes the initiation into the life of a true Brahmin.
of Gayatri Mantra
with devotional meditation is carried out twice a day; preferably around the times of sunrise and sunset (this is also called sandhya vandan) but the sutra (yagyopavit, the symbol of Goddess Gayatri) is enshrined on the body all the twenty-four hours. (This being a thread of cotton needs to be changed as a practical necessity; women change it once a month on any auspicious day after their menses and men usually change it once with the change of season on auspicious days like Vasant Panchami, Shivratri, Shravani Parva, etc).
or yagya etc, has become a superficial ritual for most of us today partly because we are not aware of their underlying philosophy and science and partly because of our extrovert, selfish attitude which always looks for materially gainful results. We feel that doing this or that will bring worldly benefits, eliminate our sins, and what not! Is this rational thinking? Nothing will be bestowed upon you by doing all this. Remember, vedic scriptures do mention of miraculous effects and supernatural potentials associated with these sacraments but this materializes only when we adopt the essential disciplines of sadhana
connected with them.
What we now see everywhere and also follow in practice is mostly a mockery of our religion. Look at the Kumbha Melas for instance! Lots of crowds and commercial fan-fares! Hordes of people bathing in the rivers without even taking minimum care of hygiene; and instead, dirtying the holy rivers in an effort of purifying themselves! Or the hordes of the so-called sadhus and sanyasis fighting with each other to have the ’honored’ privilege of taking the first dip into the sacred waters... and so on! In their original form, the Kumbha Melas used to be the truly rare and auspicious occasions of the majestic gatherings and conferences of the great saints, sages and sincere devotees from all parts of India. Disciples and other people used to reach there despite all difficulties in traveling far distances, to be blessed by the nectar of knowledge, spiritual light and affectionate guidance from the discourses and meetings of these noble masters the saintly scholars and accomplished sadhakas. Personal and social problems of the pilgrim-devotees used to be resolved by their eminent guidance; these altruist seers also used to focus on global problems and find amicable solutions for the welfare of the whole world, of all beings men, women, birds, animals, plants, trees, rivers, mountains…., every thing in Nature.
This is the age of intellect, scientific thinking. We should learn to adopt religious teachings not just by convention, but by prudent thinking through an open mind. Many a times it is seen that neither the elders in the family nor the priests are able to explain the meaning or purpose of the rituals during any religious ceremony. Instead of satisfying the queries of the youngsters, they would often either scold them or simply ’declare’ that it was our tradition. I remember one interesting incident. The daughter of a rich advocate in Mathura was getting married to a foreign-returned, well-educated young man. The girl had also completed her M. A. The wedding ceremony was organized gorgeously. In the lagna-mandap, the priest (Pandit) kept on asking the bride and the bridegroom to do several things one after the other as part of the ceremonial rituals. He was chanting some mantras in incomprehensive Sanskrit. He never bothered to see whether anybody was listening to him or not.
All this had really bored the couple. Unaware of this, the Pandit continued with "Keep these many paise here with flowers, these many rupees there with rice grains", and what not! Finally, the bridegroom interrupted him and humbly said that he was unable to understand what the Pandit was saying or doing and why? The ’smart’ Pandit tried to pose as a guru
and warned that interrupting him would be inauspicious, etc. The young man then said; "Anyway if you could pray to the God on our behalf, why don’t you also complete the rituals on our behalf. In the mean time we both will go out and take care of the guests who are waiting for us since long?" Everybody around just laughed… I had also gone to attend the wedding. This incident made me think seriously about the pitiable state of our rituals and customs. What kind of social reformation and progress we would make if we can’t even maintain the grace of important sacraments and convey the underlying teachings to our younger generation? Why boast of our cultural heritage when we don’t have the dignity to follow its values?
I hope the Gayatri
Pariwar, all of you, my children, the future of this nation, will take up this task of social reformation and cultural awakening through the religious platform. I am happy that the Gayatri
Pariwar has given boost to my initial efforts in this regard and we have been able to eliminate, to a great extent, the misconceptions about Yagya and Gayatri. We have been able to remove the barriers of so-called caste, creed and discrimination on the basis of gender and social status. Anybody interested in religious philosophy, humane culture
and desirous of self-refinement and enlightenment can participate in social and religious programmes of the Gayatri
Now we should also understand and propagate the importance of wearing the sutra and keeping shikha. Initially when I used to explain some points on its underlying philosophy and science while conducting a yagya, people used to find it very unusual. They would request me"Why don’t you just complete the rituals; we have come to offer the ahutis in the sacred fire of yagya; what have we to do with all the teachings and scientific effects…?". There was strong opposition from several swamis and pandits to my allowing women and people from all castes and cults to chant the Gayatri Mantra
and participate in yagya. But you see our impact now!! Truth
and righteous attempts cannot be checkmated by anyone for long…. Now you see thousands of women priests ably conducting and guiding Gayatri
Yagyas and the vedic sacraments under the banner of this mission. People from all walks of society, all creeds live together, work together like members of a large family in this organization. We have just lit the torch of truth
and knowledge; humbly attempted the renaissance of the divine rishi
culture. You all have to spread its light across the globe. Do this with the spread of the disciplines of shikha
represents the shirsha (top) of the Gayatri
Mantra. It reminds the devotee of the subtle presence of the pure divine intelligence in the human mind. Tightening the hair knot right above the suture induces marvellous psychological benefits. It helps in harmonious blood circulation in the brain in normal conditions and augments alertness. As described in the yoga-scriptures, it also lends support in increasing mental concentration and meditation. In terms of its sublime spiritual effects, the shikha
works like an antenna in the outer domain of the sahastrara
cakra (topmost extrasensory centre) to link the individual consciousness
with the cosmic consciousness
in the elevated state of Gayatri
The yagyopavit (sutra) has nine threads and three knots. The knots are symbols of the three granthis
(extrasensory roots of ultimate realizations) the Brahma-granthi, the Vishnu-granthi and the Shiva-granthi; these also represent the three segments of the Gayatri Mantra
that encode the sublime streams of manifestation of the omnipresent eternal sound of "Oam". The nine threads symbolize the nine planets and the nine divine-powers (manifestations of shakti, called the nav-durgas) implied in the nine words (after the shirsha) of the Gayatri
Mantra. The yagyopavit is like an idol of the deity Gayatri. You enshrine the idol in the temple of your body by wearing it.
Wearing this sacred sutra on the shoulders, keeping it near the chest, should remind you of the nine duties, nine virtues, nine principles that are taught and inspired through the nine words of the Gayatri
Mantra, which are industriousness, humility, austerity, orderliness, cooperation, wisdom, integrity of character, sense of responsibility and courage.
These nine qualities open the door to a bright, happy and successful life. Inculcation of these qualities induces eminent transformation of personality. These are also the most desired virtues for social and global welfare and progress. The first five of these deal with behavior and deeds. Industriousness means constructive utilization of time and potentials with diligence and enthusiasm for the work in hand. Humility implies modesty, etiquette, and balanced and humble behavior with due respect for the self as well as for others. Austerity includes piety of mind and body. It also means adopting the principle of"simple living & high thinking" in daily life. You must note that foresighted, constructive and altruist use of the resources becomes possible by observing austerity in personal life.
Orderliness corresponds to ideal management and disciplined organization of time, talents and other mental, physical and materialistic resources; punctuality and neatness and tidiness of the body, house and workplace, are primary necessities of orderliness. Cooperation means wholehearted sharing of joys and pains with family, friends and colleagues. As some of you might have experienced in family-life or on social fronts, it requires a good amount of patience and tolerance to work harmoniously in any collective setting. Benevolence and zeal to work for collective welfare of the society are its obvious reflections.
The remaining four qualities pertain to the mental and emotional spheres of life. Wisdom incorporates thoroughness and maturity of attitude, and thinking. Refinement of thoughts and aspirations are essential steps towards sagacious development of mind. As you all know, integrity of character is a must if you are to gain the respect and cooperation of others and achieve something worthwhile in life. Sincerity, honesty and moral purity of the character, authenticity and trustworthiness in every aspect of personal, professional and social life are the yardsticks of the integrity of a person. Gratitude for all the (direct or indirect) help received from Nature and society at every step of your life is what motivates you towards bearing your share of responsibilities. Happily transact your duties towards the physical, mental and moral progress of your dependents and associates. Do take care of contributing to and participating in the earnest activities of social welfare as well.
Many a times people think of courage and valor as some qualities required only in the battlefield. Listen my children! We all need to have these qualities to struggle and overcome our own vices first. We should also have courage to oppose immoral practices around us; raise our voice against corruption, injustice and exploitation of the weaker sections of society in our areas of interactions. If we can’t do that individually, at least we must have the courage to join collective and organized efforts against the wrongs in the system.
I advise the parijans
Pariwar to talk about these positive effects and teachings associated with shikha
and sutra whenever they perform a yagya. You should yourself adopt them in life and then tell others that one cannot perform yagya or practice the sadhana
unless one wears the sutra and ties the shikha. These are the prime emblems of the great vedic culture. Having them with us is a sign of our being the inheritors of the great rishis, the followers of the divine culture. These remind us of the values and disciplines of human dignity.
Let people come and ask us about the necessity of these symbols of Hindu Religion. I am not against people’s discerning quest. In fact, I have always encouraged it. Unless religious philosophy justifies its relevance in logical ways in the light of prudence, it cannot serve the real purpose. It has to shed off the superstitions and unwise customs that have clouded and veiled its true light. It has to spread the sagacious light of its eternal power, the divine values hidden in its core. We all, the believers, the theists need to resolutely work for this reformation and reconstruction on the religious and social fronts. Let us begin this march with a revolutionary propagation of the culture
|| Om Shanti ||